New Laws To Protect Women Passed In PakistanDecember 14, 2011 No Comments
Two ground-breaking bills affecting the position of women have just been passed in Pakistan. The first, The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill 2008, covers a wide-range of issues including women forced and sold into marriage. The second, The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010, attempts to control the availability of acid used in attacks on women in defence of so-called “honour.” Both bills were passed unopposed.
Women in Pakistan from conservative families can live in constant fear of attacks in the name of “honour.” Women who are attacked with acid can be disfigured or even blinded and the local police are often powerless, or unwilling, to do much about it. In cultures where women are viewed more as property than people it can be difficult to get local police to take action against men who attack or kill women for acts of so-called “disobedience.” Very often the police will hold the same values too.
These bills have been passed unopposed and that is important. Any amount of laws can be brought in to protect women, but what is needed is a cultural shift in society as a whole. Conservative members of the Senate did not try to defend the practices of forced marriage or “honour” killings and that in itself is a step in the right direction. Without a cultural shift, the laws will just go unenforced and nothing will change. If acid becomes difficult to get hold of in Pakistan but local police don’t take attacks seriously then perpetrators will simply find a different chemical to use against women.
While these pieces of legislation in Pakistan are definitely good news they only solve part of the problem. Women need to be confident that local police officers will enforce the new laws. So really the success or failure of these laws lies with the police. The government have given the police the tools – let’s hope they use them.
Contact the author here: firstname.lastname@example.org