Civil society representatives demanded enactment of effective legislation to deal with domestic violence. This demand was raised in a ‘Conference on Domestic Violence’ organized by Bedari held at SAFMA Auditorium in Lahore today. The conference was attended by people from different walks of life including members of Punjab assembly including Abeera Andaleeb, Dr. Nosheen Hamid, and Sadia Sohail Rana, Fouzia Viqar (Chairperson, Punjab Commission on the Status of Women), I A Rehman (general secretary, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan), Salman Abid (representative of Strengthening Participatory Organization), civil society representatives, media persons, and human rights activists.
The conference started with a video of a street play “Qanoon Hona Chaheeda”, which was followed by a situation analysis of domestic violence in Punjab by Mumtaz Mughal (A representative of Aurat Foundation). Mr. Salman Abid shared the civil society perspective and direction on domestic violence;
Ms Fouzia Viqar shared the salient features of the proposed bill on domestic violence. She informed the house that the bill has been vetted by various parliamentary committees, and has been approved by the cabinet, and would be presented in the Punjab Assembly in the next session. She was quite hopeful that the bill would be approved quickly as it has already been discussed thoroughly, and there is little chance of any hurdles in the passage of the bill.
Mr. I A Rehman focused on the overarching issues like conceptual clarity on what domestic violence is, and how widespread it is. Ms. Nosheen Hamid, and Ms Sadia Sohail Rana shared what problems they were facing being women MPAs and especially when they are elected on reserved seats. However, they assured the audiences that they were trying their best to get pro-women legislation passed.
At the end of the conference, the participants urged the Punjab government to criminalize domestic violence, introduce comprehensive legislation, and take practical steps to secure our homes for the protection and safety of children and women. The MPAs assured that they would raise this important issue in the Punjab Assembly, and facilitate the process for legislation on domestic violence.