It’s becoming increasingly clear that when it comes to protecting women in their native countries, the United States has some catching up to do. The Associated Press reports that Pakistan’s Parliament recently passed legislation allowing chemicals to be used to correct the effects of sexual violence and ending all “honor killings” punishable by death.
The legislation, the first in the country’s history to address such attacks, passed a third and final reading on Dec. 19 and is now awaiting President Dr. Arif Alvi’s signature.
These crimes often go unpunished and lead to abuse, killing, trafficking, human trafficking, forced marriage, and forced prostitution.
According to the legislation, first introduced in the Parliament by Ali Muhammad Khan, a law professor, up to 10,000 Pakistani men and women are imprisoned under domestic-violence laws. It is estimated that only two of those people are convicted of it each year, and at least 20 percent of the cases are dismissed due to lack of evidence.
“This new law will save many women from suffering humiliation, destruction of their family honor and even from death,” Khan told the Associated Press.
Activists have long been calling for improved laws and recognition of women’s rights in Pakistan. Some have lamented that it has taken the country so long to act. “This is not a new phenomenon, but no one has ever been held accountable for doing things like this. “The laws and procedures there have been such that no one has ever been punished for this,” says Fahad Cheema, the managing partner at Capital Advocates, a Pakistani law firm that provides legal assistance to women who face abuse or crimes. “Before, no one would ever dare speak out. So it has been difficult to bring about change.”
“For too long, men thought that the laws would not deter their behavior. A lot of people were asking why we were so lenient. We were reluctant to be too harsh. There is a general attitude in society that people should be able to do as they please. “ But with this legislation, it seems people are starting to look at things differently. The Government of Pakistan may, in some sense, be giving women in the country something to fight for.
Source: Associated Press