ISLAMABAD: The ambiguous and elusive definition of ‘domestic violence’, as given in the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021, seriously threatens society’s family value system and controls parents on children.
There would have been no problem in banning “physical abuse”, which should have been at the center of the bill, to control the tendency to physical torture of women, children, elderly parents, domestic workers or children. other vulnerable people in a household or family. However, by expanding the definition of torture to include “emotional, psychological, verbal and economic” abuse, the bill presents such unlimited scope of interpretation and application that it could ruin the family system and prevent child abuse. parents to fulfill their parental obligations. responsibilities.
The bill was adopted by the National Assembly and later, with some amendments, also approved by the Senate. The bill is now pending before the National Assembly for further approval due to changes made by the Senate. However, following the serious controversy over the bill, Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to refer it to the Council of Islamic Ideology.
Although the CII decides which parts of the bill it deems un-Islamic, there is now a realization within government, including even within the Ministry of Human Rights, that the broad and vague definition of “domestic violence” causes some serious problems for societies and therefore needs to be reviewed.
The Ministry of Human Rights is currently in contact with the CII and is holding a meeting with Council officials for some consensual changes in the bill to make it acceptable to all and primarily focused on physical violence rather than extend it to emotional, psychological, verbal and economic abuse.
What threatens the family system and parental controls is how the bill explains the expanded definition of torture, abuse or violence. Clause 3 (b) of the bill reads as follows:
(b) “emotional, psychological and verbal abuse” is when the aggrieved person suffers from degrading or demeaning behavior on the part of the respondent and includes, but is not limited to: –
(i) repeated exposure of obsessive jealousy causing repeated interference with the victim’s privacy, liberty, integrity and security;
(ii) insults or mockery directed at the injured party;
(iii) threats to cause physical pain to the spouse or other members of the shared household;
(iv) threats of divorce or (contract a) second marriage on unsubstantiated charges of insanity or infertility;
(v) make false allegations about the personality of a female member or any member of the common family;
(vi) willful or negligent abandonment of the injured party;
(vii) criminal harassment;
(viii) harassment or
(ix) compel the wife to cohabit with someone other than the husband.
In view of the above definition, parental controls are seriously threatened if a son or daughter is disciplined, without physical violence or torture, by parents or any other family member against their choice. For example, if he is asked not to go out until late at night, if he has stopped going to parties where there is possible drug and alcohol use, if he is invited to stay home for their welfare, interviewed for the purpose of monitoring what the son or daughter is doing outside the home, etc.
Parents or any other family member could be in trouble if the son or daughter thinks he / she is being abused “emotionally”, “psychologically” or “verbally” by their parents, whose “watch” will become “harassment” “And” “harassment” in accordance with the bill. Parents could be accused of invading the “privacy” and “freedom” of their son or daughter if the son or daughter takes parental disciplinary action in violation of the bill. If a father or mother or older brother or sister scolds a son or daughter, it can also become a crime if the son and daughter take it as “insults or ridicule”.
“Threats to cause physical pain” is also the kind of explanation given in the bill that can be exploited. This means that there is no physical violence, but the simple threat of “I will beat you” could carry a sentence of up to three years in prison. Unfortunately, due to the absence of any character building mechanism in society, verbal abuse is excessively used both in public and in the home. Making it a crime instead of focusing on character building and civilized behavior could be exploited to destroy many families.