KARACHI: Female legislators managed to pass two resolutions on women trafficking and violence against women on Thursday. The assembly also passed a resolution against unregistered NGOs.
The first resolution was moved by Minister for Women Development Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto and was supported by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In 2002, the government had promulgated the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance but it was not implemented.
Bhutto accused influential landlords, industrialists and a few international personalities of supporting trafficking of women. Recently, a gang of traffickers was busted in Thatta and they were found to be in possession of a girl from the Punjab. Influential people in their area made sure the suspects were released, she said.
According to the PPP’s Humera Alwani, most cases take place near the Punjab-Sindh border in areas such as Ubaro, Rahim Yar Khan and Ghotki. Innocent women are lured with job or marriage prospects and then sold at throwaway prices, she said. “Since this happens so frequently, the police have stopped registering cases,” she added.
The PPP’s Anwar Maher pointed out that the resolution should not be confined to “women trafficking”. Since numerous men and male children fall into this trap, “I will suggest that the resolution be amended to include ‘human trafficking’”.
Throughout the session, Deputy Speaker Shahla Raza requested male legislators to take part in the discussion. Finally, she asked Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani to say a few words. He replied with a quick response: “This is very good resolution and we support it”.
Later the resolution was passed unanimously.
PPP legislator Kulsoom Chandio moved another resolution demanding strict action against people responsible for committing violence against women in Sindh. Her resolution was supported by MPAs Shama Mithani, Rashida Panhwar, Dr Sajeela Leghari, Ayesha Khoso, Rainaz Bozdar, Alwani and Bhutto.
Chandio condemned the killing of women on the basis of karo-kari and believed that traditions such as Sang Chatti, in which minor girls are given to the rival family, have given a bad name to Sindh.
Alwani pointed out that 87 per cent women are being tortured at homes. “I tabled a bill for legislation on domestic violence in August 2008 but it has yet to be implemented,” she said. This legislation proposed a three-year punishment for torturing a woman.
Minister for Fisheries Zahid Bhurgari and Opposition leader Jam Madad Ali wanted to discuss the rights of men and violence committed against them but the deputy speaker did not take them seriously.
The MPAs agreed that a change in mindset is what is needed to bring about an end to violence. Raza put the motion to the House and it was passed unanimously.
A third resolution on action against unregistered NGOs was moved by PPP MPA Ghulam Mujtaba Isran. All unregistered NGOs must be registered and an audit of all registered ones should be carried out as they receive millions of rupees in funding from international donors, he said.
Three bills, including Sindh Seed Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2010, Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Amendment) Bill 2010 and Pakistan Institute of Management Bill 2010, were deferred till Monday.
The president has taken notice of the assembly session starting late and a computerised attendance marking system will be installed very soon, said Minister for Law Ayaz Soomro. He was responding to a point of order raised by PPP MPA Jam Tamachi Unar, who complained about the late start of the session.
Two members of the PPP, Minister for Food Nadir Magsi and Senior Minister for Education Pir Mazharul Haq, were ridiculed for arriving at 1 pm.
Attendance remained thin during the session on Thursday even though proceedings began as late as 12:10 pm. Members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement were absent, however, as the party has suspended its activities from November 4 to November 7.
PPP MPA Sharjeel Inam Memon raised the issue of those legislators who have failed to attend a session for a long time. The opposition leader clarified that former Sindh chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam and Ram Singh Sodho are out of the country and the assembly has granted them leave.
The session has been adjourned till Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2010.