Pakistan Prez signs bills protecting women, senior citizens’ rights

Islamabad: Pakistan President Arif Alvi has signed two important bills including the one which ensures women’s property rights and protects them from harassment, coercion, force or fraud, the media reported citing officials.

The second bill to which the president gave his consent is Senior Citizen Bill, 2021 and is aimed at the welfare of senior citizens of Islamabad. With the president’s signing on Tuesday, these bills have become acts, the Dawn reported.

According to the presidency, Alvi signed the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights (Amendment) Bill 2021 which has amended Section 5 of the relevant Act 2020.

The bill will allow filing of an appeal to the president within 30 days against a decision of the ombudsman (Mohtasib).

The law seeks to protect women’s right of ownership and possession of property and ensure that their rights are not violated by means of harassment, coercion, force or fraud.

“It offers an effective and speedy grievance redressal mechanism under which any woman deprived of ownership of property or possession of her property, may file an appeal to the ombudsman if no proceedings in a court of law are pending regarding that property,” the law says.

After preliminary assessment, the ombudsman will seek a report from the deputy commissioner within 15 days and will pass the judgement after going through the record. “The ombudsman will also seek objections from the complainant and her adversaries and will complete hearing within 60 days,” the bill adds.

The Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights (Amendment) Act 2021 is a step forward in the right direction as it puts time restrictions in resolving disputes relating to women’s property.

It has been observed that although the Constitution of Pakistan, in its Article 23, recognises the property rights of all citizens, women, who make up half of the country’s population, continue to face legal barriers to access, own and administer property.

Women’s right to own land and property is considered essential for women empowerment and greater female labour force participation. The bill ensures that Senior Citizen Council and ‘Darul Shafqat’ (old age home) would be established for the elderly and residents over 60 years would be eligible for the senior citizen card.

According to the bill, they will get free facilities of museum, parks and library and will also be entitled to treatment facilities, subsidy on medicines and separate wards.

Financial aid would be provided to deserving senior citizens, including 20 per cent subsidy on air and railway travel.

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