Fearing for their lives, workers of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society members have demanded better security measures while performing their duties.
Members of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas End Violence against Women and Girls Alliance met Sitara Ayaz, Provincial Minister for Social Welfare and Women Empowerment, during a meeting on Monday.
The campaigners presented the minister with a charter demanding protection and safety for all human rights defenders. They said that measures needed to be taken to ensure that government officials and other public figures refrain from making statements stigmatising the legitimate work of women human rights defenders in Pakistan. They also demanded that the government take immediate measures to end the culture of impunity regarding crimes against women. They expressed hope that the government would address the stigma of silence and shame that heighten the vulnerability of women activists.
The social welfare minster ensured the delegation that the government would take serious notice of threats to human rights workers and would look into the charter. She asked the delegation to form a working group which could meet government departments in order to develop practical solutions. She also asked the NGOs to alter their strategies to minimise the risk faced by them.Organisations attending included Blue Veins, Khwendo Kor, PCSW, Aurat Foundation, Shirkat Gah, Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network, Citizen Rights and Sustainable Development, Tribal NGOs Consortium, Edifiers and PEADS.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.