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Pakistan lower house passes bill outlawing domestic violence

[JURIST] The Pakistan National Assembly [official website], the lower house of parliament, on Tuesday unanimously approved the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2008 [text, PDF], moving a step closer to outlawing domestic violence in the country. Under the proposed legislation, women, children, and domestic employees would be protected [APP report] from physical, mental, and sexual assaults. Victims could be relocated, and those found guilty could face jail time and fines. The bill also allows the court to direct the accused to compensate the victim for any expenses incurred. The measure is supported by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) [party website] of President Asif Ali Zardari [official website]. It will now face a vote in the Senate [official website] and must then be signed by Zardari before becoming law.

Domestic violence continues to be a global problem, as it often goes unpunished. In June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the Turkish government is responsible for the death of a woman at the hands of her ex-husband because it failed to investigate complaints. In September, the India Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) [official website] announced that it would review [JURIST report] the country's controversial anti-dowry [BBC backgrounder] act because increasing numbers of Indian women had issued complaints about misuse. Despite legislation controlling the cultural and religious practice, India's dowry system continues illegally, leaving many women subject to abuse without enforcement of legal protections from so-called "dowry deaths" [backgrounder]. In 2006, the Council of Europe (COE) [official website] released a report [COE press release; JURIST report] criticizing France's human rights record and identifying impunity for domestic violence as a shortcoming in the French judicial system.

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