Legislation on Violence against Women and Girls

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973

This is the standard setting document of Pakistan. It identifies the basic principles by which all other laws must abide. It also identifies the fundamental rights of citizens of Pakistan, identifying the basic rights and freedoms which must be not be violated by any law or practice in the country. Visit the website

Pakistan Penal Code, 1860

The Pakistan Penal Code usually called PPC is a penal code for offences charged in Pakistan. Whereas the PPC covers the majority of criminal offences; recent pro-women laws have focused on making amendments in the PPC to address any shortfalls. Visit the website

Offences covered in the PPC include (but are not limited to):

Physical harm of any sort (illegal touching, violence and abuse)

Wrongful restraint

Assault and criminal force against a woman with intent to strip her of her clothes or outrage her modesty

Forced abortions and miscarriages

Mental harm

Trespass of all types and criminal offences committed during trespass

Unnatural Offences

Exchange of women for purposes of settling a dispute


Kidnapping and Abducting children and women

Human Trafficking

Depriving a woman of her inheritance


Deceiving a woman in affairs relating to marriage

Forced prostitution

Attempted Offences (including aiding and abetting)

Honour Killings

Wrongful confinement

Forced marriages

Marriage to the Holy Quran

Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929

Child marriages have been one of the most problematic issues in Pakistan. The biggest issue relates to the age of majority, which under Islamic law is age of puberty while in other legislation it varies from the age of 16 to 18. The issue of child marriages is related to a number of other societal issues and customary practices such as exchange marriages, forced marriages, practice of giving women and children in compensation in tribal/familial clashes etc all often include the element of child marriage.

This law was promulgated to deal with child marriages and the above issues and prescribes punishments for those involved including adult bridegrooms, nikkah registrars, parents etc. Download document

Foreigners Act, 1946 and Foreigners Order, 1951

These laws deal with procedures relating to foreign nationals in Pakistan. These also identify the processes of dealing with illegal aliens in the country. In the absence of a detailed law dealing with trafficked persons being forcefully entered into Pakistan, these laws are relevant with regards to their treatment, including repatriation etc. Download the document (English | Urdu)

Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961

This law deals with all matters relating to marriage, including registration, polygamy, divorce, maintenance and other relevant processes and procedures.

This is relevant as violence is often manifested through marriage and family. In a patriarchal society such as Pakistan where a woman’s recognition is through her family, it is important to ensure her protection within the marriage itself. The processes and procedures can be used for the violation of women’s rights and protections. It is important for a marriage to be registered and a woman to be aware of her rights of divorce and in situations where the husband marries a second time etc. Visit the website

Dowry and Bridal Gifts (Restriction) Act, 1976

This law places restrictions on the amount of gifts to a bride and groom, while also requiring limited expenditure on the wedding functions. It also mandates all dowry items to be vested property of the bride. It further requires listing and valuation of all dowry and gift items. Download the document.

Anti-Terrorism Act 1997

This Act provides for the prevention of terrorism and sectarian violence and for speedy trial of heinous offences (such as kidnapping for ransom). The law covers issues of child molestation and gang rape. Download the document

Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance, 2002

This law defines the crimes of human trafficking. It also provides punishments for such trafficking and identifies those responsible. However, this law only relates to external trafficking i.e. requiring a crossing of international borders. Internal trafficking (trafficking within the borders of Pakistan) is therefore not covered by this law. Visit the website

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2004

This law introduced the definition of honour crimes within the PPC and recognized it as an offence. It recognised that killings committed in the name of honour were murders and must be booked and prosecuted as murder and that exemptions will not be given for honour killings or crimes. It also made illegal the exchange of women in marriage or otherwise for the purposes of settling disputes. Download the document

Protection for Women (Criminal Law Amendment) Act, 2006

This law created changes in two of the Hudood Ordinances, namely the Zina and Qazf Ordinance. It removed a number of clauses, such as the clause pertaining to rape, kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel for marriage, fornication, offences relating to buying and selling for prostitution, kidnapping or abducting for unnatural lust etc from the Zina Ordinance and placed them in the Pakistan Penal Code 1860. This has the result of the overarching rules and procedures of the PPC being applicable to these offences, such as investigation techniques and forms of evidence. Visit the website

The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010

This law introduced the definition of harassment at the workplace as an offence. It provides for wide descriptions of the workplace to include premises out of the place of work, where any official work or work activity is being carried out. Harassment is defined within the concept of work. A number of penalties are identified for those found guilty of harassment, varying upon the degree and extent of harassment. It also spells out the procedures where cases of harassment come forward. It also requires all workplaces to set up a committee to deal with such cases. It also requires the Government to appoint an Ombudsman to deal with any such cases. Download the document

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2010

The law creates an amendment to Section 509 of the PPC. It replaces the original section with the offence of sexual harassment. As a result, a wide definition of sexual harassment has been included in the law, effectively criminalizing it. It also provides a corresponding punishment. This law talks more specifically about the harassment at public places. Download the document

Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 2011

This law includes provisions within the PPC to specifically deal with the offence of hurt being caused by acid, a crime which women are the most common victim of. It makes amendments in the section of hurt to include the effects of acid i.e. disfiguring or defacing. It also adds a specific clause relating to hurt by corrosive substance and a corresponding punishment. Download the document

The Prevention of Anti Women Practices - Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Act, 2011

This law makes amendments to the PPC, including within the PPC a number of offences considered to be customary practices. It expands the existing clause on prohibition on exchange of women for purposes of resolution of a dispute to include prohibition of customs such as Wanni, Swara or any other such custom. New sections added include prohibition of depriving women from inheriting their property; creating an offence for forced marriages of women; and marriage of a woman to the Holy Quran. These amendments target those who force women into such situations, depriving them or their rights or coercing them against their will. Download the document

Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2012

The Domestic Violence Bill makes violence against women and children an offence, punishable by time in jail and imposition of fines. The Bill also been stipulates that the cases regarding domestic violence be dealt with expeditiously, time lines in this connection have also been given.

Besides children and women, the Bill also provides protection to the adopted, employed and domestic associates in a household.

The law classifies domestic violence as acts of physical, sexual or mental assault, force, criminal intimidation, harassment, hurt, confinement and deprivation of economic or financial resources. Download the document