Change to surety bond law keeps Pakistani women in jail

Pakistani women once again find their rights being limited by their government’s stifling regulations. In April, the country’s parliament removed an amendment from its Code of Criminal Procedure that gave women in jail the right to bail via surety bonds.

The amendment had been added in 1997 to give women in jail the ability to post bail for almost any offense except those considered to be the most serious, such as terrorism, financial corruption or murder. The law required judicial officers to release accused women from prison if they provided a bail bond, a common surety bond type.

But this April, Pakistan’s parliament approved a government bill that omitted the previously approved provisos, thus removing the ability women have to be granted bail through a surety bond.

An article by the DAWN Media Group said the change would make life more difficult for Pakistani women. The article cited Barrister Masroor Shah, a lawyer based out of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city.

“’Earlier they could manage their release on a surety bond but now it will be very difficult to avoid imprisonment.’ He said now grant of bail is the sole discretion of the court. ‘Women have to follow lengthy legal process for bail.’”

Women may now only receive bail at the discretion of a judge on a case-by-case basis, which will inevitably lead to more Pakistani women being incarcerated over the long term. Women who are not granted bail will remain in jail for at minimum of six months for minor infractions.