LAHORE:  Protection of Women Against Violence Bill 2015 became a law in Punjab after it was signed by Governor Malik Rafiq Rajwana today.

The Protection of Women Against Violence Bill 2015 declares physical violence, abusive language, stalking, cyber-crimes, etc, against women a crime in Punjab.

The bill, passed by the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday, features redress for female victims of violence, criminalizes all forms of violence against women and provides them with special centers which remove the bureaucratic hurdles that complicate a woman’s access to justice.

As per the bill, violence has been redefined to mean any offence committed against the human body of the aggrieved person, including abetment of an offence, domestic violence, sexual violence, psychological and emotional abuse, economic abuse, and stalking and cyber-crime.

A toll-free universal access number (UAN) will be launched to receive complaints while district protection committees will be established to investigate complaints filed by women. Centers will also be set up for reconciliation and resolution of disputes.

Protection officers will be liable to inform the defendant whenever a complaint is received. Offering resistance to protection officers will be punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs500,000. Once a complaint is received, it will be updated into a database which will soon be set up.

Filing a false complaint or levelling false accusations can be punishable by up to three months in jail and/or a fine of Rs50,000 to Rs100,000. The law will not allow aggrieved women to be forced out of their houses. The defendant can be made to leave the house for two days, according to the law. Darul Amans and protection centers will be set up according to the passed law. Shelter homes will be built for the protection of aggrieved women, which will provide boarding and lodging facilities to the victim and children, if any.

The defendant will be liable to bear all the expenses of the complainant women in case the court orders it. If the defendant refuses to pay cash, then the court can order for the payment to be deducted from their salary, if applicable.

Defendants can be cuffed with GPS tracking bracelets if ordered by the court. Those attempting to remove or tamper with the tracking bracelets will be jailed for up to one year and fined between Rs50,000 to Rs200,000. Defendants will not be allowed to apply for an arms license or procure weapons, whereas weapons already registered in their name will have to be submitted with the court.