Kindly read ASF-Pak legal coordinator’s report, Sana Masood. We hope that change will come up!
The concluding ceremony of 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Bases Violence was quite informative and it discussed the following achievements in the existing legislation till date and proposed further changes in law to be discussed in the upcoming session of the National Assembly in January;
- The National Assembly has unanimously passed the amendment in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Criminal Procedure Code(CRPC) on 4th November 2009. (see; attached document)
This is an amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code 1860, clause 509. This clause was the closest to cover sexual harassment but was vague. The current amendment adds a clear definition of sexual harassment and articulates that this behavior, (that can happen at workplace, markets, streets or home), is a crime and is punishable by law. This covers all women in the country including those who are domestic workers, agricultural labourers or home based workers; the non formal sector as well as women in all public and private places. The punishment is up to 3 years imprisonment and/or up to Rupees 5 hundred thousand fine.
- A Bill to institute an Anti Sexual Harassment Policy called ‘PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT AT WORKPLACE 2008’ in every organization
This bill makes it essential for all institutions (government, private or community organizations) to adopt a Code of Conduct and form a three member committee to deal with all complaints of sexual harassment within their organizations. The powers of the Committee and the procedure of the inquiry that an organization should conduct on such complaints have been stipulated in this Bill. The management will have to form the Committee and notify the employers of the Code of Conduct within one month of the passage of the Bill.
In case the perpetrator is too senior or is the owner of the business himself and the victim is not sure if the internal Committee could do justice with the complaint she could go to an Ombudsperson (a public official who acts as an impartial intermediary between the public and government or bureaucracy, or an employee of an organization who mediates disputes between employees and management.) which will be established only for this purpose. Any party who is not satisfied with the decision of its Committee, and the final verdict of the management can also go to the Ombudsperson for appeal. Any management that fails get the Code of Conduct instituted within their organization or to establish a three-member Committee can be taken to court and can be fined up to Rs 100,000/-
In addition, I have also given the following suggestions in writing to Dr. Fouzia Saeed, Executive Director, Meherghar, who will be submitting these amendments to the Ministry for Women Development;
- Section 336 of Pakistan Penal Code needs to define disfigurement and should also include loss of sight, hearing, smell and/or taste.
- Section 337 of PPC; Punishment needs to be increased to life imprisonment and fine should not be less than Rs. 5 Lacs. The perpetrator should also be made liable to pay for the medical costs for the treatment of victim
- In case the perpetrator cannot be identified or is unknown, the government should provide free medical treatment (surgeries and psychological counseling) and rehabilitation facilities to the victim.
- In all cases, the government should provide free medical treatment and legal aid to the victim, as often the compensation money is not paid on time to the victim by the perpetrator and/or his family.
- Poison Act needs to define poisons and include all categories including acid.
- Section 2 Poison Act; The provincial government should not only regulate the sale but also the purchase of acid.
- Under the same Act a license for the sale and purchase of all Poisons should be introduced.
- Under the same Act all poisons should be sold in sealed bottles/containers and only those poisons should be allowed for domestic use which do not cause disfigurement.
- Section 6; punishment for breach of licensed sale & purchase should be increased.
- Poison Act should also define the duties and role of the District officer and the Government for an effective monitoring system for the regulation of sale and purchase of poisons including acid.
- Lastly section 174-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure must be introduced to all medical officers dealing with burn victims. Under this section it is the duty of the medical officer to record the victim’s statement immediately, as soon as they receive the patient. This is helpful in court proceedings where the judge would give the highest regard to the victim’s statement even where there is presence or absence of circumstantial evidence putting the burden of proof on the perpetrator that he/she did not commit the act and in case of weak defense he/she would be liable to imprisonment and fine.
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