By: Imran Mukhtar | February 03, 2012 |

The bill creates a National Commission on the Status of Women.

ISLAMABAD- The Senate on Thursday, keeping a mum on the emerging political situation after the Supreme Court decided to bring charges against Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in a contempt of court notice, remained stuck to its legislative business and passed a women rights protection bill.The lawmakers across the divided floor thumped desks when the House unanimously passed the National Commission on the Status of Women Bill, 2012. The National Assembly had already passed the Bill. The Bill provides for the setting up of National Commission on the Status of Women for the promotion of social, economic, political and legal rights of women The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill says that in furtherance of the empowerment of women and to ensure their rights, it is necessary and expedient to establish at a national level, a commission for women, with full administrative and financial autonomy to monitor and oversee compliance with national laws and international conventions; to advocate for the rights of women; to highlight discriminatory practices, abuse and violations of women’s rights; and make policy recommendation.

The Bill got applause from all the lawmakers, especially women legislators, prior to its passage that was moved by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar before the house was adjourned to meet again on Friday at 10am.Before the Chairman Senate put the Bill to vote, Professor Khurshid Ahmed opposed it on technical grounds. He said that Law Ministry and the concerned Ministry of Human Rights had not necessarily vetted the Bill. “Women rights as defined by the Constitution and the criterion of qualification for the appointment of the Chairperson of Commission have not been clearly defined in the proposed legislation,” he said, adding that the members of the Commission should be represented and reflected by all cross sections of the society. He also said that the Commission should be made autonomous and suggested that its passage should be delayed for some time.However, some other lawmakers suggested that the proposed Bill should be passed immediately without any delay.

Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of MQM hailing the Bill said that further delay in its legislation should be considered a great disservice for the women of the country. Begum Gulshan Saeed suggested that the proposed Commission should work on ways to stop forced marriages and marriages with Holy QuranSenator Rehmatullah Kakar of JUI-F supporting the Bill pointed out that the criterion of qualification for the appointment of the Chairperson had not been clearly defined in it. He also said that according to the proposed legislation, the members of the Commission should have a status of government officials that would be a question mark on its autonomy.

Senator Haroon Akhtar of PML-Q said that it was the need of the hour to establish such a commission that could protect all the women rights legislations passed by this present Parliament.Qari Muhammad Abdullah termed the constitution of the Commission exactly right in the light of the teachings of Islam. Senator Abdul Rahim Mandokhel of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkAMP) said he wanted to bring on record that the under discussion subject was not present in the federal legislative list and only provinces could pass legislation on it.