Speakers at a forum expressed concern over the worsening human rights situation in Haripur and stressed on the need for concerted efforts to ensure the protection of human rights through a single platform.
The forum on ‘Protection of Human Rights and Importance of Networks’ was organised by the Human Development Organisation (HDO) on Monday, which was attended by several lawyers, media personnel and human rights activists.
Even though the government has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, custodial abuses are rampant at detention centres and 97 per cent of detained people undergo physical and mental torture according to the HDO’s monitoring study, they claimed.
According to the speakers, 34 women have been killed in Haripur during the last two years, out of whom eight were killed in the name of ‘honour’. In addition, 13 cases of women being abducted, 12 suicides and 35 cases of violence against women were reported from the district. Moreover, they stressed on the fact that a majority of cases go unreported, as law enforcement agencies operate with impunity.
In order to corroborate the state of women in Haripur, the speakers highlighted the infamous Neelor Bala incident, in which a woman was paraded naked at the whim of a jirga. They also referred to an incident in which a man chopped off his wife’s nose on the suspicion that she was having an extramarital affair.
In addition to that, the speakers condemned the expulsion of a hakeem by local clerics who accused him of being an Ahmadi and proselytising his religion.
Unchecked violations of labour rights at the hands of industrialists and cases of child labour and corporal punishment were also discussed at the forum, during which participants agreed to form an integrated human rights network at district level with the mandate of monitoring cases of human rights abuses, such as torture, violence against women and labour rights.
The network would be linked with provincial, national and international human rights networks and will extend support to victims of abuse. A 16-member committee comprising of lawyers, journalists, human right activists and former prisoners was also formed for this purpose.
Former Haripur District Bar secretary general Khursheed Azhar, Advocate Gulnaz Rasheed, Advocate Tahir Alvi, Bakhsish Elahi, Omar Farooq, Adeel Ahmed, Shagufta Abdul Ghani and Ghazala Qureshi were among the speakers.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2011.
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Education needs to be promoted at every level and rights and laws need to be seriously enforced.