Monday, January 4, 2010

Action urged on Pakistan acid attacks

MPs in Pakistan's Punjab Province have urged tougher sentencing for people convicted of acid attacks on women.

Zarina Ramzan's face was disfigured in an acid attack last year

Read Zarina's story

A resolution passed in the state assembly on Tuesday called for national legislation that would treat such attacks as attempted murder.

The resolution also calls for acid attack cases to be tried in court, rather than by tribal elders or within families.

Reporting of acid attacks against women has increased in recent years in Pakistan, especially in its largest province, Punjab.

There were 46 cases of acid attacks on women reported in Punjab in 2002.

'Good step'

The resolution was tabled by a female assembly member, Humaira Owais Shahid.

Human rights activists have long been calling for more to be done to bring those found guilty of crimes against women to justice.

Kamila Hayat, an activist with Pakistan's Human Rights Commission, welcomed the move.

"Any legislation is a good step," she told the Associated Press.

The BBC's Shahid Malik in Lahore says assembly resolutions, unlike bills, carry no legal weight.

In order to become binding such proposals would need to be incorporated into federal legislation.

He says there are no signs to suggest such legislation is currently being considered at federal level.