Women in Distress and Detention Fund fails to help women 

0
138

 

The Women in Distress and Detention Fund was established in 1996, but not a single penny out of Rs 46 million allocated for the fund has been utilised so far, it was learnt reliably.

Primarily, the objective of the Fund was set to provide financial and legal assistance to the women in distress and detention. The fund was established in 1996 under an Act of Parliament namely Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act, 1996, while its rules were framed in 1999 vide SRO 1181 (1)99 dated October 5, 1999.

However, the fund remained non-operational over the years and deserving people remained deprived as not a single penny was spent for their welfare.

Copies of official documents available with Pakistan Today disclosed that Rs 46 million dedicated to the fund was non-lapsable at the end of financial year and the fund was available for utilisation at any time. Currently, an amount of Rs 50.66 million is available in the Saving Account No SAC-11070 being maintained in the National Saving Center’s Civic Centre branch, Islamabad, and an amount of Rs 6.32 million is available in the PLS Account no 0451846 being maintained in the National Bank of Pakistan located in the same region as the former, said documents.

Official sources in the Human Rights Ministry said the fund was expected to ensure legal help to women in detention or distress, women in detention (under trial, convicted or in Darul Aman), for books, payment of stipend, or to women assigned teaching jobs. It was also supposed to serve the purpose of providing assistance to women in cases of extreme hardship for purposes of rehabilitation, disabled women, women suffering from serious ailments, medical aid and burn cases etc.

Interestingly, the fund remained inactive over the years ostensibly because of the changing status of the human rights wing which was first given the status of a federal ministry and then converted into a wing of the Ministry of Law Justice and Human Rights. Later, considering its importance, the government again converted the wing into a ministry on December 2, 2015.

On creation of independent Ministry of Human Rights in 2007, the fund was transferred to it from Law & Justice ministry. Accordingly, in December 2011, the parliament enacted an amendment in the Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act 1996 to make it operational in the ministry of human rights.

In the wake of reorganisation of the Federal Secretariat on June 7, 2013, and subsequent merger of Human Rights Ministry with Ministry of Law & Justice, the need for necessary amendments in the Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act has emerged for the purposes of making it operational.

According to the documents, amendments are also necessary to make disbursement of this fund effective. Since promulgation of the Act, composition of the board of governors, as stipulated in Section 6 of the Act, presented issues of meeting necessary quorum on account of members official engagements. “This issue kept the fund non-operational over the years and hence deserving people eligible to benefit from fund remained deprived,” documents revealed.

It is also learnt that Human Rights Ministry had submitted a summary on July 22, 2014, to the Cabinet Division for its presentation to the Cabinet seeking amendment in Section 6 of the Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act, 1996. The Cabinet Committee constituted by the prime minister for disposal of legislative cases considered the summary for Cabinet on “Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill,

The Cabinet Committee constituted by the prime minister for disposal of legislative cases considered the summary for Cabinet on the Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill 2014 in its meeting held on January 26, 2016 and approved the amendments. It is pertinent to mention here that the Bill in its final form with a statement of objects and reason duly signed by the minister in charge was forwarded to the Law & Justice Division for its transmission to the Parliamentary Affairs Division for its introduction in the Assembly and Senate.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Bill in its final form with a statement of objects and reason duly signed by the minister in charge was forwarded to the Law & Justice Division for its transmission to the Parliamentary Affairs Division for its introduction in the Assembly and Senate.

The bill further to amend the Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act, 1996 (The Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2016) has been introduced in the National Assembly on September28, 2016 by the Senator Kamran Michael, the minister for Human Rights. The Bill was considered by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights in its meeting held on 8th

The Bill was considered by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights in its meeting held on November 8, 2016. The standing committee has prepared its report in last quarter of 2016 and now it is pending to be tabled in the Assembly and then the upper house of parliament would give its approval to start its proper functioning.

Besides, the Women in Distress and Detention Fund could benefit the women at grass root, who are trapped in the clutches of poverty and are faced with maltreatment, discrimination, violence, and to provide shelter to children.