Posts Tagged ‘comprehensive’

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April 15th, 2014

Comprehensive Acid And Burn Legislation Status

December 19th, 2012

POSITION PAPER: ACID AND BURN LEGISLATION IN PAKISTAN

In Pakistan, the acid and burn legislation aiming at eradicating acid and burn violence – one of the worst forms of gender based violence[1]- has been proposed after Naila Farhat’s case was taken to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2009: it was the first acid attack case reaching this level of jurisdiction in the history of Pakistan, the victim won the case and it was followed by a suo moto action of the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudry , in November 2009, who consequently advised or requested Pakistani parliamentarians to legislate on acid and burn violence on the model of the Bangladeshi law. In view of this decision, the Pakistani civil society initiated an evidence based advocacy and lobbying campaign in January 2010 in collaboration with the then Federal Ministry of Women Development, Federal Ministry of Human Rights, parliamentarians (MNAs and MPAs), UN agencies, legal and medical experts, media, the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and acid survivors themselves, that initially resulted in the drafting of a comprehensive acid and burn crime prevention bill. This comprehensive bill was submitted to the then Federal Ministry of Women Development in July 2010. However, the Federal Ministry of Women Development did not follow up actively on this comprehensive legislation for acid and burn crime so meanwhile, a Parliamentarian, Marvi Memon, tabled a private member bill in May 2010 in the National Assembly that was entitled the Acid and Burn Crime Prevention Bill.

Hence, the legislative process became quite confusing: a private member bill had been tabled with no prior consultation with any other stakeholder while a widely supported comprehensive legislation was in process -or rather pending- with a government institution that had just been devolved. Keeping in view the best interest of the citizen- especially the acid attack victims- as well as the legal and political realities –including the passage of the 18th amendment of the constitution of Pakistan, the Pakistani civil society along with parliamentarians (MNAs and MPAs), UN agencies, legal and medical experts, media, the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and acid survivors themselves opted for an inclusive  and consensual 3 steps legislation apparel that was inspired from the Sexual Harassment legislation: 1) Amendment in the PPC 2) Comprehensive legal mechanism 3) Complementary law for acid. On 12th December 2011, those synergetic and participatory efforts led to the unanimous passage of Marvi Memon’s private member bill: the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011 (Act XXV), by the senate.

This 1st achievement was highly celebrated at national and international level, and perceived as an extremely encouraging step towards eradicating acid violence in the country. However, the civil society insisted from 13th December 2011 onwards that it was only the 1st step of a more comprehensive legislative apparel and that more efforts and action from the government and the legislators would be required to also pass the comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill (step 2) along with the Acid Control Bill (step 3) at provincial level. In fact, while the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011 (HURT), Act XXV, specifically makes acid and burn violence a crime against the state and therefore makes it a non compoundable and non-bailable offence,  and while it imposes a 1 million rupees fine on the perpetrator, and grants between 7 years to life time imprisonment punishment, it is important to also address other aspects of the crime that cannot be part of a simple amendment in the Pakistani Penal Code: investigation process (protection to victims, witnesses, delay of investigation), trial process (type of court and trial duration), rehabilitation and legal aid services to victims, funding and monitoring mechanisms, regulation of distribution and sale of acid.

Since February 2012, the civil society and especially EVAWG alliances provincial chapters along with Media, MNAs and MPAs, reinitiated a campaign to get the comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill (STEP 2) passed at provincial level as the need to further legislate on the matter was highlighted by a geographical, quantitative and qualitative spread of acid violence in the country: attacks extended to FATA, Kashmir, were used as a tool to practice honour killing, to threaten girls from attending school, to victimise minorities further, additional attacks were reported from Dera Ismail Khan. Defective implementation of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011 (Act XXV) was also a reason to urge for the passage of the Comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill at provincial level as it proposes a monitoring board. But where do we stand to date?

In ICT the comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill has now been submitted by Dr Atiya Inayat Ullah to the National Assembly. This bill is co –signed by 11 parliamentarians from PPP, MQM, PML-Q and reached the Minister of Interior on 3rd October 2012 for official clearance so that it could be tabled in the National Assembly. The bill has now been sent back to the National Assembly and should be tabled the sent to the relevant committee for discussion on the next session in January 2012.

In Khyberpukhtunkhwa, the increase in the notifications of acid attacks from KP-FATA within the last 4 months (10 cases in total) has finally convinced the KP government that the comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill had to be passed. The Provincial Commission on the Status of Women along with the civil society and Women Development Department-KP, media and parliamentarians reviewed the comprehensive bill that has now been forwarded to KP law department and sent back to SWD and WED KP. The KP government plans to table this comprehensive bill as a government bill in January 2013 session.

In Punjab, the comprehensive bill has been submitted to the Women Development Department and discussed with the Punjab Law Department, till date however, no comprehensive bill has been tabled in the Provincial assembly.

In Sindh, Balochistan, Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, no further action has been taken with regard to the comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill.

If certain legal steps have been welcome such as inclusion of Burn Victims in the list of eligible beneficiaries for the Fund For Women in Distress, and if Punjab currently envisages to establish a 50 million board to benefit acid and burn attacks survivors, no half mending will be effective enough to counter acid violence in Pakistan. Apart from awareness and sensitization campaigns to generate behavioural change, a full fledge legislative apparel setting the norm which does not depend on political decisions and leaders but which is engraved into the legal framework of the country and which is adequately enforced, is imperative to make Pakistan a acid violence free country.

Valerie Khan Yusufzai

ASF-Pakistan Chairperson


[1] Violence against women is a “global phenomenon that kills, tortures, and maims – physically, psychologically, sexually and economically” and it results in denial of security, dignity, self-worth, and the right to enjoy fundamental freedoms to women. Acid throwing is an extreme form of violence that harms victims both physically and psychologically and results in their social marginalization and stigmatization. In Pakistan, 70% of the victims are women and girls. See Acid Survivors Foundation data.

PODA Rural Women Conference: A Way To Reach Out To CSOs Members And Parliamentarians For Further Support For Comprehensive Acid And Burn Crime Bill.

October 20th, 2012

YOUTH ENGAGED along with UN women, UK Aid, ASF…

Dialogue On Acid And Burn Legislation in Muzaffargarh

October 12th, 2012

Promoting the tabling of comprehensive Acid And Burn Crime Bill 2012.

Men and Women united to promote human rights and fight acid violence.

Debate session

Inclusive approach : women and religious representatives are part of the discussion

NO debate can be significant without the survivors' voice and perspective

Men engaged to promote women's rights

Partnership!

Inclusiveness And Solidarity: Thank You EVAWG Alliance KP-FATA For Helping In Organising This Workshop…

August 23rd, 2012

Because Acid Violence As The Worst Form Of Gender Based Violence Concerns All Of Us.

ASF team, EVAWG alliance KP-FATA representatives, religious representatives of Haqqania watching the documentary Bushra survives.

Qamar Nassem, co-chair EVAWG alliance KP-FATA exlplaining why acid violence is one of the worts forms of gender based violence.

A representative of Haqqania reading 2 pages explaining why acid violence is against islamic principles and why a comprehensive legislation must be passed at provincial level

Praying for comprehensive Acid and Burn crime Bill to be passed in KP assembly

ADVOCACY AND LOBBYING CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED FOR PASSING COMPREHENSIVE ACID AND BURN CRIME BILL IN PAKISTAN!!!

August 2nd, 2012

JOIN HANDS AND BUILD THE MOMENTUM WRITING


COMMENTS UNDER THIS ARTICLE, THEY WILL BE


SENT TO POLICY MAKERS…LET US TAKE ACTION:


JUSTICE FOR ACID SURVIVORS IN PAKISTAN!

PAKISTAN, SHOW US YOU CAN DO IT !!!


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Comment: How many more faces will be lost?

Published: July 30, 2012

Despite a national resolve, provinces have not passed any bills on acid crimes.PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: In December 2011, some survivors of acid attacks sat in the Senate’s gallery to observe the passage of an amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) that declared such attacks criminal. The strong support of our Parliament on that bill was a major step toward dealing with this inhumane crime.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s Oscar for a film on acid survivors got national and international acclaim and helped to move public opinion against this crime. The suicide death of acid victim Fakhra Yunus was another jolt. After numerous operations to normalise her face and body, she finally gave up and committed suicide in Italy. Many in Pakistan mourned her loss and wanted to put a stop to the menace of acid attacks, but the horror stories continue. Many more have become victims, blinded and deformed by egotistical criminals. Each of these attacks defaces the image of Pakistani society.

Since 2010, the Acid Survivors Foundation has led a movement to criminalise these inhumane acts. It received support from government officials, health practitioners, the academia, burn centre officials, civil society and parliamentarians. They worked together for a year to produce two draft bills. One was the PPC amendment to criminalise the action of acid and burn attacks, while the other was a comprehensive bill to strengthen the courts’ ability to convict the criminal and support the victim.

This second bill is necessary because the judicial process is complex. These crimes will not end only by criminalising the specific act. There are a number of other issues relating to the process of reporting, investigation, collecting medical evidence, compensation for rehabilitation, and protection for the victim and the witnesses. Both of these bills, like the twin laws against sexual harassment, are needed to address the complex social web surrounding this crime. Without these comprehensive laws, criminals will walk free while their victims will continue to live in shame and misery.

With regard to devolution, the provinces must address the issue in their assemblies while the federal government must take forth the bill for Islamabad. By October 2011, the National Commission on the Status of Women had reviewed the second, more comprehensive bill with its own legal experts and civil society. However, despite national resolve on this issue, not a single assembly has taken any step towards the passage of bills.

One wonders what is preventing the assemblies from taking up a bill that has been well-prepared, and is essential for the handling of heinous crimes. We have a federal government which has proven its commitment to women – having passed seven pro-women laws in the last three years. We have provincial governments that have taken on their devolved portfolio of women’s development quite well after June 2011, and are picking up the pace of action on implementing anti-sexual harassment laws.

One realises that the clash of our major national institutions has deflected priorities away from substantive issues, but the daughters of this country cannot keep losing their faces. How many more women will be deformed before the wake-up call is heard by chief ministers?

In the last three years, the partnership between the government and civil society on social legislation has been well established. The draft is ready, but the bill has to be moved. Who can we count on to keep up the pressure until a comprehensive law on acid crimes is passed? Can we count on the prime minister to push for passage of the bill for Islamabad, setting a positive lead for the provincial assemblies to follow? Can we count on the chief ministers to take this draft law up urgently, as if the next woman to lose her face will be their own daughter?

The latest democratic period has brought us many needed changes in our laws, and one continues to be optimistic that the society will soon move in a direction to resolve this issue as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.

Training Media On Effective Reporting Of Acid Violence: A Momentum Was Born Again!

July 25th, 2012

Acid attack survivors sharing their stories

Survivors acting as agents of change and interacting with the press