DELHI -- In Pakistan, the upper house of parliament has unanimously passed a bill criminalizing violence against women and children. After it is signed by President Asif Ali Zardari, people committing domestic violence will face a minimum sentence of six months and a fine of at least Rs. 100,000 ($1100).
The bill was pending since August 2009 when it was passed by lower house. Objections by some lawmakers prevented action till now, according to human rights groups.
In its 2012 World Report, Human Rights Watch said that “mistreatment of women and girls—including rape, domestic violence, and forced marriage—remains a serious problem.” The human rights report published by the U.S State Department in 2011also described domestic violence a "widespread and serious problem." "Husbands reportedly beat and occasionally killed their wives. Other forms of domestic violence included torture, physical disfigurement, and shaving the eyebrows and hair off women's heads," it said.
Local media reports cited domestic violence in the new law being defined as “all acts of gender-based or physical or psychological abuse committed by an accused against women, children or other vulnerable persons, with whom the respondent is or has been in a domestic relationship.”
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported the details of the law. For instance, the court needs to set a date for a hearing within seven dates of getting a complaint by the aggrieved party. The law required that the petition should be “disposed of within a period of 90 days.”