Criminal Law Amendments to Protect Women and Children Passed by Pakistani Parliament

On 12 December 2011, the Pakistani Parliament passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill and the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill. Both Bills provide for amendments to be made to the Pakistan Penal Code 1860. The amendments seek to protect women and children against acid attacks and prevent other practices which discriminate against women, including forced marriages.

The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill broadens the scope of existing provisions to cover acid attacks victims who are disfigured or defaced by an attack. It also inserts two new sections into the Penal Code: Section 336A, which criminalises the act of voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous means or substances, and section 336B(1), which sets out the punishment for such offences. The Bill also provides for the rehabilitation and compensation of victims of acid crimes. Under section 336B(2), courts may direct an accused person to pay monetary relief to meet expenses incurred and losses suffered by the victim of an acid attack. Such monetary relief may include, but is not limited to, monies in respect of loss of earnings and medical expenses. Section 336B(4) allows courts to take measures to ensure compliance with orders for monetary relief. The Bill also regulates the sale of poisons.

The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill replaces section 310A of the Penal Code with a new section 310A, which provides for the punishment of anyone who compels a female into marriage in order to settle a civil dispute or criminal liability. It also inserts a new Chapter XXA into the Penal Code, titled "Offences against Women", prohibiting specific exploitative and discriminatory practices against women, including:

  • Section 498A, which makes it an offence to deprive a woman of an inheritance.
  • Section 498B, which criminalises forced marriages. 
  • Section 498C, which prohibits marriage with the Holy Quran. (An oath taken by a woman on the Holy Quran to remain unmarried for the rest of her life or not to claim her share of inheritance is deemed to be "marriage with the Holy Quran").

The Bill also inserts section 402D into the Penal Code, which prohibits Provincial Governments from interfering with sentences for rape.

To read the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill click here.

To read the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill click here.