ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly passed the “The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill 2008” expected at prohibiting practices leading to the development and intolerance of women.
The bill specifically targets forced marriages, marriages to the Holy Quran and denial of the right of inheritance.
According to the bill (section 498A), moved by Donya Aziz (PML-Q), whoever, by deceitful or illegal means, deprives a woman from inheriting any movable or immovable property at the time of opening of succession, will be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to ten years and no less than five years or with a fine of one million rupees or both.
Section 498B says whoever coerces or in any manner compels a women to enter into marriage shall be punished with imprisonment of three to ten years or is liable to a fine of Rs500,000.
Section 498C of the bill says whoever compels or arranges/facilitates the marriage of a woman with the Holy Quran shall be punished with imprisonment of three to seven years or is liable to a fine of Rs500,000.
The bill was moved by Dr Donya Aziz in the previous session but had failed to sail through twice on technical objections. It was first deferred in October on a technical objection on the language though three of its five clauses were approved. On the second occasion, again in October, the bill was once again deferred after objections by PML-N legislator Ayaz Amir, PPP’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other members from both sides of the isle that copies of the amended bill had not been distributed amongst legislators. On Tuesday however, the bill was finally passed despite some objections on the spellings and language of the bill.
Initially the PM’s advisor Farooq Awan opposed the amendment moved by MQM legislator S Iqbal Qadri in clause (1) of the bill but he later withdrew his opposition and accepted the amendment, leading to the passage of the bill.
In the statement of objects, Dr Donya Aziz said there were several practices and customs in vogue in the country that were not only against human dignity but also violated basic human rights. The bill provides that customary norms which were contrary to Islamic injunctions should be done away with and persons who continue such practices be dealt with severely through penal and financial liabilities.