KARACHI: Given the rise in crime against women, particularly rape and karo-kari, activists gathered in Karachi to question the effectiveness of laws formulated to ‘protect’ women.
The meeting was organised by Pakistan Women’s Foundation For Peace (PWFFP) and Pakistan Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Organisation and was attended by representatives of various NGOs and doctors.
The speakers believed that the rise in crime against women, particularly in Karachi and other parts of Sindh, shows that the law enforcement agencies have become indifferent to the sufferings of women.
Despite the conflicting statements made by the victim, members of PWFFP were of the opinion that the doctor should be tried in the court of law for illegally occupying the hospital premises and harassing female staff.
“What good is the bill against sexual harassment when women in this noble profession cannot be protected,” questioned president PWFFP Nargis Rahman. Members feared that women will now be discouraged to join the nursing profession where there is an acute shortage of people.
“Currently there is one nurse for eight doctors when we require at least 15 nurses per doctor,” said Dr Samrina Hashmi, secretary general Pakistan Medical Association.
The participants demanded the government establish shelter homes and provide free legal aid to victims of violence so that they can be empowered.
Writer Tayyaba Zafar believed, however, that the only way a woman can assert herself is to come out and vote. “The police and bureaucrats are all backed by political parties who have a feudal background. We need to vote these people out,” she said, adding that once the degrees-verification process of various MNAs and MPAs is over, the country will step into another round of by-elections providing people with yet another opportunity to have a say and change the system.
The killing of the two Christian brothers outside the district courts in Faisalabad was also discussed and participants demanded an immediate repeal of the blasphemy laws.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2010.