First step to protect women’s rights: PM
ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday kept up the momentum of legislation against anti-women laws by submitting a draft bill to the National Assembly seeking an end to practices like marriage of girls with the Quran or to settle long-running tribal feuds.The first hint of such legislation came in a Wednesday night speech by President Gen Pervez Musharraf in which he congratulated parliament on adopting a bill seeking to amend the heavily criticised Hudood ordinances.He added that the National Assembly would do away with “evil customs like vani, swara and honour-killings” in the remainder of its tenure.Pakistan Muslim League president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain submitted the draft bill to National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain on Thursday.
“This is a follow-up move on the Women Protection Rights Bill which was passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday. The bill seeks to not only empower women but also give them their due rights,” he told the news agency APP.“The bill that we passed on Wednesday is the first step of our government towards protection of women’s rights and the new bill is part of our agenda to ensure that their full rights are given to them,” Chaudhry Hussain said.The federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, said the bill submitted by Chaudhry Shujaat, who was accompanied by PML secretary-general Mushahid Hussain, sought to put an end to six anti-women practices.
Â“One, it seeks action against those who deprive women of their inheritance or property rights. Two, it legislates against vani or the custom of giving the hand of women, mostly under-age girls, to settle murder disputes. Third, it criminalises forced marriages. Fourth, it proposes legal action against those who issue three divorces to their wives in one sitting. Fifth, it makes women’s marriage with the Quran a crime. Sixth, it puts an end to the custom of watta-satta,” he explained, adding that the bill incorporated the views of religious scholars.He said the bill would be taken up by the National Assembly on a private member’s day during the next session. He added that while the next session had not been scheduled, it would be held some time in December.
The federal minister for parliamentary affairs said most religious scholars felt the need for legislation against such anti-women practices.“And since these are non-controversial issues, I am convinced that the bill will be adopted by the National Assembly without the kind of wrangling that characterised the passage of the Women Protection Rights Bill,” he said.