This book, a collection of three essays, looks at the legal system's response to violence against women in South Asia. It is an overview of law and legal control in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The studies show the commonalities and the differences in the three legal systems. All three countries have experienced British colonial rule and their criminal laws are derived from the British legal tradition. All three countries grappled with similar issues and problems in using law as a strategy to combat violence against women. All three faced the problem of reconciling ethnic and religious or customary legal values with international and constitutionally guaranteed rights to equality and protection from violence. In Pakistan, the official Islamisation process added new and complex dimensions to the issues of administration of criminal justice and enforcement of family law.
Each study adopts a different approach in its analysis of legal control--focussed on what is considered relevant for their country. Thus, the study on Sri Lanka is a critical review of a range of legal norms and procedures, the one on India is a critique of the implementation of the justice system and the one on Pakistan focuses on the failure to protect women from violence and uses non-legal materials too in discussing legal controls.
The studies in this volume clearly demonstrate that the legal system has failed to protect women against violence. There is, nevertheless, recognition of the fact that the law and effective law enforcement machineries can serve as serious deterrents to violence. The studies explore the possibility of reforming the legal systems and suggest that multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies of South Asia must accept the concept of drafting general codes that conform with international human rights norms and recognize the people's right to opt for them in the governance of family relations.