Women’s rights: ‘No tolernace for violence against women’

Demonstrators protest against discriminatory laws and raise awareness among women about their rights.


Shamsul Islam November 23, 2011

FAISALABAD:


A large rally was staged in the district to mark the International Day for the elimination of violence against women on Wednesday.


The End Gender based Violence and Discrimination’ rally was taken out by the Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM), Peace and Human Development (PHD Foundation), Lyallpur Development Organisation (LDO), Society for the Protection of the Rights of Children (SPARC) and Liaison for Enforcement of Human Rights (LEHR).

The demonstration was held at the District Council in Faisalabad and hundreds of activists as well as members of civil society including students, lawyers, representatives of trade unions, political parties and other organisations attended the event.

The demonstrators strongly condemned the inhuman treatment against women witnessed in Pakistan on a daily basis and urged the government to take tangible steps towards the protection of women’s rights. The demonstrators also chanted slogans in support of women’s rights and in opposition to gender based violence, intolerance and discrimination.

Activists criticised laws and customary practices against women, sexual harassment, the jirga system, rape cases that went unpunished, forced abortion, women trafficking, killing in the name of honour, forced marriages, mutilation and acid attacks. “All of these issues are prevalent in Pakistan. There are daily attacks and most of these target women and young girls,” said AWAM representative Nazia Sardar.

Speaking on this occasion Naseem Anthony, Iftikhar Ahmad, Nazia Sardar, Shazia George, Arif Ayaz, Rizwana, Naseem and Amir Shahzad expressed their concerns on the situation of women in Pakistan.

Shazia George lauded the passage of a recent bill approved by the National Assembly to prevent anti-women practices, and called upon the senate to prove its commitment towards empowerment of women by approving the pro-women bill without delay. “What really needs to be worked on is enforcement. There is pro-women legislation but no one really fights for it to be imposed and most women in rural areas do not even know their own rights,” she added. “Sadly most people in Pakistan just assume that violence against women is alright. Women being mistreated is not only acceptable but even appreciated by many village locals and land lords to ‘keep women in check’,” she said. “All of this stems from the honour culture because men in Pakistan tend to ascribe all loss of honour as a woman’s fault,” said Rizwana from the LDO.

The speakers said that the government needed to take affirmative measures to amend discriminatory laws including the Evidence Act, the Citizenship Act, the Hadood Ordinance, Qisas and the Diyat Ordinance and Custodianship Act. “All of these laws target women unfairly and coupled with a jirga system it practically ensures that women will be punished for most crimes even if they are the victims,” she added.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2011.

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