Legislation in force to protect women against the incidence of all kinds of violence in everyday life (including sexual violence, abuses in the family, sexual harassment at the work place etc.).
States parties should take all legal and other measures that are necessary to provide effective protection of women against gender-based violence.
509. The Pakistan Penal Code contains detailed provisions relating to almost all acts of violence. Under Article 25 of the Constitution, these provide protection to all citizens regardless of gender.
The subject of trafficking has been dealt with in some detail in Chapter VI.
Sexual harassment at the work place could be said to be covered by Section 294 of the Pakistan Penal Code “Whoever, to the annoyance of others, a) does any obscene act in any public place, or b) sings, recites or utters any obscene songs, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.”
The extent to which this provision is invoked is not documented. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is not invoked frequently.
Section 545 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows the court to provide compensation to victim of a crime from the fine imposed on the perpetrator of the crime.
Specific laws relating to sexual violence exist in the form of the Hudood Laws. A section of the society believes instead of combating violence against women, these laws in some cases protect perpetrators of violence. This issue has been dealt with in some detail in Chapter XV of the report.
There is at present no specific section in the Penal Code to deal with “abuses in the family”. The penal code is supposed to address this form of violence also.
If violence results in grievous bodily harm then the law of Qisas and Diyat comes into play. Many hold the view that it in certain instances it protects the perpetrator. Public opinion is divided on this law also (The matter has been discussed in Chapter XV, para 19 - 26).
Other measures adopted to eradicate violence against women.
The Government and people of Pakistan realize that violence against women is a serious issue.
Violence against women is routinely highlighted and reported in the media, creating a heightened awareness of this serious problem.
The judiciary has played a pro-active and constructive role in combating violence against women. It has taken suo moto notice of a number of incidents involving violence against women.
The main problem, which Pakistan shares with other developing countries, is low level of implementation of laws. Mostly it is due to lack of adequate training to appropriately deal with the situation and apply the relevant provisions of the law. Sometimes this may be due to deliberate connivance of the law enforcement personnel.
A number of administrative measures have been taken to combat violence against women. A new section, 174-A, was added to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, in 2001 which is specifically directed at curbing dowry related violence. Under this provision all burn cases are required to be reported to the nearest Magistrate by the registered medical practitioner designated by Provincial Government and Officer in Charge of a Police Station. The medical practitioner shall record the statement of the burn victim immediately on arrival. Should the victim not survive, this statement will be accepted as a dying declaration.
Women’s lack of access to legal information, aid or protection is said to contribute to violence against women. The Government therefore launched the US $ 350 million Access to Justice Programme with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank. Women are among the main beneficiaries of the programme by facilitating their approach to the courts as plaintiffs. At a broader level, the programme also attempts to facilitate the entry of women into the legal profession.
Pakistan signed the Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (September 2001) and ratified the SAARC Convention on Prostitution of Women and Girls in November 2002.
The Government also promulgated Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance in November 2002. The measure was considered long due and provides the law enforcement personnel with a powerful instrument to combat the menace of human smuggling.
Some other measures taken to combat violence against women are:
Women police stations have been set up in ten cities of the country.
A new approach is to establish women’s complaint cells in existing police stations. These cells are meant for women complainants and are manned by women police officers.
There already exist three Government run women crisis centers in the country. Free legal and medical aid and temporary shelter is provided to women victims of violence, including domestic violence, at these centers. In the last four years these centers have provided assistance to nearly 5,000 women. The number of centers is being increased to 10. The seven additional centers will be in Karachi, Mianwali, Kohat, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar and Lahore. These are expected to be operational by 30 June 2005.
The Government enacted the Women in Distress and Detention Act 1996. Rules for the Act were made in 1999. The Act establishes a fund for assisting women in conflict with the law.
The Punjab province has revamped the medico-legal system to enable, among other things, quicker follow-up on cases involving violence against women. Fifteen medico-legal centers have been established to facilitate easier access to medico-legal aid.
Police reforms are also being instituted as part of Access to Justice Programme. The salient features of these reforms include fostering better police-citizen relations and raising gender and human rights awareness.