On Monday 7th of March VOICE, in collaboration with Interface and FAST Care, organized a panel discussion on the recently passed Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act. The panelists included Farhana Afzal, Salman Sufi, Mufti Qavi and Abdullah Malik. This discussion aimed at creating awareness amongst the students about the various clauses and stipulations of the act recently passed in the Punjab assembly.
Salman Sufi, whose team drafted the act on the Chief Ministers orders, gave a brief overview of the act. He explained how this act differs from the other similar acts passed before. This act aims at helping the victims by not only providing them with prompt care, but also by ensuring that they don’t have to suffer the emotional trauma of dealing with the redundant and slow systems currently in place. In fact the entire act aims at creating ease for those filing for protection. Introduction of civil remedies and all-inclusive care centers through this act was greatly appreciated by the students. In addition to this, the definition of the violence given in this act to include acts of violence in addition to domestic violence was also applauded as a step in the right direction.
Mufti Qavi, who came all the way from Multan for this session, also added his support for the bill in the discussion that ensued. He negated the doubts raised by many about this act containing un-Islamic stipulations. He accepted that violence against women was a real concern and appreciated the efforts made through this bill to provide safeguards to the females victimized.
At the end of the discussion the panel answered the various questions raised by the students in the audience. Both criticism and appreciation for the act was well received by the panel. They encouraged the students to discuss and debate on the act passed so that the good could be appreciated and the weaknesses in the act countered in the future. The act was; however, unanimously accepted as a right step taken in the right direction.