Monday, February 20, 2012

Pakistan To Enact Tough Domestic Violence Law

Here's some surprising news out of Pakistan:  the Senate is finally doing something to protect women and children against domestic violence with a Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill.  The Bill also includes domestic workers in the home, who also are often subject to major mistreatment by their employers.

Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar's DV Bill, which passed unanimously in 2009 in the lower house of parliament and has now passed in the upper house, takes the whole issue of domestic violence one step further.  It won't just be a criminal offence to beat women and children, any act of violence including sexual, physical, or mental, any kind of harassment, hurt, intimidation, or "confinement and deprivation of economic of financial resources" will land someone in jail for up to six months.  They'll also be subject to a fine of at least $1,100 (100,000 rupees).

This is a major step considering it's actually a cultural and religious mandate to beat wives in Islam.

Apparently, prior to this law there were no repercussions for a man who beat his wife or child, it was simply considered a domestic affair and men were never prosecuted.   I'm not sure what took so long for it to finally reach the upper house, and the law still has to be enacted by  President Asif Ali Zardari, but it's very promising.

The U.S. would do well to follow suit and enact tougher DV laws, since we have as great a problem with domestic violence but don't have religion or culture to blame.

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