February 27th, 2021 

Staff Reporter 


LAHORE

This special webinar is part of the ongoing social media campaign ‘Bohat Ho Gaya… Let’s Fight Rape!’ in collaboration with the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

Highlighting that ordinances were against the spirit of parliamentary democracy, Mehnaz Akber Aziz, Member of National Assembly from PML-N, pledged to work across party lines on rape legislation.

The opposition MNA was speaking as a panelist on Voicepk.net’s webinar: Let’s Fight Rape…Bohat Ho Gaya on Friday, 26th February. The PML-N legislator said a debate in Parliament is essential for the enactment of comprehensive laws on important issues such as rape, sexual abuse, and the rape of children.

 

“Such issues affect the whole country and quite sure the legislation will get bipartisan support,” she said, adding no single party can push a bill alone in the Parliament. The PML MNA asked her co-panelist Barrister Ali Zafar, Senator-elect from PTI, to immediately table a bill on anti-rape ordinances in the Parliament.

Mehnaz Akber Aziz highlighted that the anti-rape ordinances will lapse soon, therefore, the government should raise public awareness about the key provisions prior to bringing a bill before the Parliament.

“A bill takes about a year and a half for enactment,” she said. Aziz said the basic problems in the implementation of laws come at the district and tehsil levels. “Raising awareness at grassroots is being left to the non-government organizations which normally do not have the requisite funds,” she said. The MNA said officials have no training on new laws while the public has no awareness of their rights.

For instance, there was no training imparted to provincial and federal legislators about the anti-rape ordinances. “Even, I don’t know what’s in the anti-rape ordinances,” she told her co-panelists.

The PML-N legislator said the provincial chief executives need to personally oversee cases of high-profile rapes, citing the example of former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif visiting the family of Zainab, a victim of rape and murder in Kasur. “If the Balochistan chief minister had visited the family of the child rape victim in Khuzdar, this would have kept all the institutions on their toes,” she added, referring to lapse in investigation of child rape in Khuzdar highlighted in the webinar.

MNA Mehnaz Akber Aziz also took exception to statements from parliamentarians and ministers calling for harsher punishments like public hanging and castration whenever there is a high-profile case. “We issue ordinances and call for public hangings on television screens but refrain from discussing these serious issues in Parliament,” she said. Speaking about her efforts towards legislation on child rape in the National Assembly, she regretted that fellow legislators did not show requisite commitment and dedication over the issue. “I got no response from the House about child rape legislation in two and half years,” she revealed.  The PML-N legislator also paid tribute to the late Asma Jahangir saying the human rights icon stood for such issues nobody dared to highlight.

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