31st anniversary: Deweaponisation of society stressed

WAF concerned over growing intolerance, violence in the country.

News Desk September 15, 2012

A women rights body expressed concern over growing intolerance and rampant violence in society and urged upon the state and people to take a bold stance against religious extremism and all forms of violence.

“Cases of rape and ‘honour’ killings are reported in the media every day. Intolerance towards non-Muslims is ripping the country apart, and Shia Muslims are being cold-bloodedly murdered across the country,” said the Islamabad chapter of Women Action Forum (WAF) in a statement issued on Friday to commemorate three decades of its struggle for women rights and against dictatorship.

“We are appalled and strongly condemn the state’s inaction towards perpetrators of violence, who continue to enjoy impunity and are free to kill, maim and terrorise others,” said the statement.

The forum called for urgent measures to reform and strengthen the police and promote peace and harmony. “Those who incite violence must be severely punished and society must be deweaponised. Providing security is the state’s responsibility, and it must not be sublet to private armies. No citizen must be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon.

“We call upon citizens to refrain from voting for any political party that supports militant wings among its ranks, or is not willing to publicly announce it will renounce violence and deweaponise the country,” read the statement.

WAF came into existence on September 16, 1981 under General Ziaul Haq’s regime that hanged an elected prime minister, banned political parties, gagged the press, put hundreds of political workers into prisons and flogged publicly.

Women, who until then had looked up to the state, saw their rights being threatened by the state itself. Dress codes were imposed, restrictions placed on employment and cruel laws were promulgated.

Under the Hudood Ordinance, a young woman, Fehmida and her husband Allah Bukhsh, were given a punishment of hundred lashes and stoning to death. The nation was horrified. The judgment was challenged in court, and, since WAF believes “every issue is a women’s issue”, in addition to violence against women, their social, legal and democratic rights, the rights of non-Muslims, labour rights and peace were also taken up.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2012.


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