The federal and all provincial governments in Pakistan are taking measures to protect women and their rights. The pro-women steps include necessary legislation to ensure their rights, safety and proportionate representation in jobs and all spheres of life. In all provinces, there are Darul Amans (shelter homes) for women facing social injustices like violence, early marriage, and women who have no one to look after them. At Darul Amans, women are provided all facilities, including legal aid and psychiatric help.
Recently, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Women Parliamentary Caucus has formed advisory bodies in order to provide better services to women living in shelter homes. These committees comprise gynaecologists, psychologists, personnel from the women police, local government officials, lawyers and district officers for Darul Amans. The caucus has also sought the appointment of male officials for women shelter homes. The caucus meeting reviewed matters pertaining to Darul Aman in the province and announced measures needed to improve facilities at these places. In K-P, around 5,000 women have sought shelter in Darul Amans over the past five years. In 2017, a helpline named Zama Awaz (My Voice) was set up in the province through the efforts of the women legislators’ caucus. The helpline, set up in collaboration with USAID and an NGO, provides women direct access to lawmakers of and from the province and thus helps in speedy resolution of their issues.
The women parliamentary caucus of the province signed a MoU with the UN a few years ago. Under the agreement, UN specialists are assisting women legislators in drafting laws aimed at protecting women’s rights and highlighting their issues. Much needs to be done to improve women’s lot in the country. One of the major issues affecting women’s lives in Pakistan, mostly in its rural areas, is the prevalence of under-age and child marriages. Only Sindh has enacted a law prohibiting under-age marriages. The legislation has fixed the minimum age for marriage of girls at 18.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2021.
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