Helping out: ‘Women still deprived of fundamental rights’

MRDO working to form support group for victims of sexual, gender-based violence

Our Correspondent February 13, 2017
MRDO working to form support group for victims of sexual, gender-based violence

SUKKUR: It is unfortunate that even today women are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and have been denied their due social, economic, political, financial and fundamental rights, said Chief Executive Officer of the Marvi Rural Development Organisation (MRDO) Ghulam Sughra Solangi.

Solangi chaired a meeting on Saturday on the ‘Formation of a District Women’s Support Group’ in Sukkur, which was held to discuss various aspects of the programme. “In the past, MRDO has dealt with many cases of sexual and gender-based violence by providing victims shelter but delayed justice disappoints the women greatly,” she told participants.

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This programme will be a great support system for victims, said Solangi. It is a crime against humanity that our women are kept confined within the four walls of the house as prisoners, she lamented.

This project, she said, aims at encouraging lawyers to take on pro-bono cases and consolidate a database of legal experts to help women seeking justice.

“The project will help sensitise lawyers on gender-friendly legal practices and consolidate pro-women judicial precedents and regressive court precedents for a comparative trend analysis,” she said. Solangi said the initiative will also facilitate information dissemination by establishing a facilitation kiosk for women seeking legal assistance at the district court of Sukkur.

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“We anticipate that the support group will bridge the gap between various stakeholders. The quality of services for victims and the access to justice will increase to meet the needs,” said Professor Tajnees Pirzada, a women’s rights activist and gender studies professor.

Shafique Khoso, project coordinator of the Gender Equity Programme, shared that in order to sustain legal aid provision, lawyers’ groups and organisations are documented and will be made available on a database, which can be accessed by litigants and referral organisations.

Through this, organisations and lawyers can reach out to each other, he explained. MRDO programme manager Salman Ali said the project will help removing obstacles to justice for gender-based violence in society. “To effectively respond to this situation, we need a long-term, systemic and comprehensive approach that recognises and protects women’s full and equal human rights,” he told participants.

During the meeting a mechanism was developed through which this District Support Women’s Group will link female litigants to the notified pool of lawyers and pro-bono lawyers can also refer the litigants to service providers if the litigants need medical aid, shelter or anything else to help reduce delayed justice.

The group will meet once every quarter to discuss the progress and how to manage challenges being faced by them.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2017.


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