LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today (Monday) summoned Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to address reservations of religious parties on women protection bill passed recently by the Punjab Assembly.
The meeting will take place at Nawaz Sharif’s residence in Jati Umra area of Lahore.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister will seek Fazlur Rehman’s recommendations on the matter.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had formed a consultative committee on women protection bill after having a telephonic conversation with the JUI-F chief.
Lawmakers in Punjab last month gave unprecedented protection to female victims of violence, in a bid to stem a rising tide of gender-related abuse in a country ranked as the world’s third most dangerous place for women.
The new law criminalises all forms of violence against women, whether domestic, psychological or sexual, and calls for the creation of a toll-free abuse reporting hot line and the establishment of shelters.
Pakistan, home to roughly 190 million people, sees thousands of cases of violence against women every year, from rape and acid attacks to sexual assault, kidnappings and so-called “honour killings”.
“The instances of violence against women have been on the increase, primarily because the existing legal system does not effectively address the menace and violence by some is perpetrated with impunity,” said the text of the legislation passed by the Punjab assembly.
In 2013, more than 5,800 cases of violence against women were reported in Punjab alone, the province where Wednesday’s law was passed, according to the Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights advocacy group.
Those cases represented 74 percent of the national total that year, the latest for which data is available.
The leader of one of Pakistan’s largest seminaries denounced the new law as being in conflict with the Holy Quran.
“Attempting to change religious and national values in the name of protecting women is a tragedy that is of great concern,” Muhammad Naeem, head of the Jamia Binoria seminary in the southern city of Karachi, said in a statement.
The new law establishes district-level panels to investigate reports of abuse, and mandates the use of GPS bracelets to keep track of offenders.
It also sets punishments of up to a year in jail for violators of court orders related to domestic violence, with that period rising to two years for repeat offenders.
Rights groups welcomed the law, but warned that its implementation remained a concern.
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