Pakistan has seen, in recent years, a notable rise in participation of women from minority communities in public affairs. Their own endeavours as well as efforts at the governmental level have aided in the positive development. They are in the assemblies, they are doctors, they are engineers, teachers at all levels, in the armed forces, and civil services. Recently, Mala Kumari, a highly-educated Hindu woman, has been appointed member of a (Alternative) Dispute Resolution Council (DRC) in Kurram tribal district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. She had school education in her native Parachinar, which witnessed much militancy and terrorism in the recent past. She obtained graduation and master’s degrees from Peshawar University.
Kumari has a long experience of highlighting women issues. Her early education in her native green valley was a difficult task considering that till recently females going out alone was frowned upon in tribal society. Over the years, things have been taking a turn for the better. Common people as well as public figures from the minority communities have widely welcomed Kumari’s appointment to the alternative dispute resolution organisation, saying she will be greatly helpful in expediting issues facing minority women as she is more familiar with these problems mostly relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance.
Commonly known as jirgas, DRCs function at the police station level. The provincial government has framed rules for their functioning. The mechanism of the Alternative Dispute Resolution helps in quick resolution of disputes at the local level. This process saves money involved in pursuing court litigations, time and courts’ burden besides providing speedy justice. During the past six years, DRCs in K-P have resolved around 42,000 cases relating to marriage and separation, domestic violence, inheritance, monetary transactions, etc. In the West, now most civil disputes are settled quickly through the ADR mechanism, thus obviating the need for approaching courts. It is now being said that ‘the civil justice system has died in the Occident.’
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2021.
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