ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Senate on Monday passed a bill that makes violence against women and children an offence carrying jail terms and fines, state media said.
The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill was introduced by Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar and passed unanimously by the upper house of the federal parliament, Pakistan Television reported.
The law was already passed unanimously in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, in August 2009. It will come into effect after President Asif Ali Zardari signs it into legislation.
Those found guilty of beating women or children will face a minimum six months behind bars and a fine of at least 100,000 rupees ($1,100).
Besides children and women, the bill also provides protection to the adopted, employed and domestic associates in a household.
The law classifies domestic violence as acts of physical, sexual or mental assault, force, criminal intimidation, harassment, hurt, confinement and deprivation of economic or financial resources.
Previously, if a man beat her wife or children, police could not arrest him and it was considered a domestic affair.
Human rights groups say Pakistani women suffer severe discrimination, domestic violence and so-called “honour” killings — when a victim is murdered for allegedly bringing dishonour upon her family.
They say that women are increasingly isolated by spreading Islamist fundamentalism in Pakistan, where the Taliban threaten parts of the northwest.