The coordinator for a Bargad project under which literature containing material on sex education was distributed in schools has told the Lahore High Court that the booklets were recalled over a year ago and a petition seeking a ban on the NGO should be dismissed.
The LHC, after going through coordinator Bushra Sadiq’s two-page statement on Tuesday, directed the petitioner to file a rejoinder. Sadiq said that Bargad launched the Empowering Girls-Transforming Communities (EGTC) project in Gujranwala on January 21, 2010, in collaboration with local education authorities.
She said the objective of the project was to equip young girls with social skills that could help them and their families live a healthy and meaningful life. She said that during the course of the project, some community members voiced reservations about some of the booklet’s contents.
In response, the matter was discussed with the district administration and the agreement with local authorities regarding the project was cancelled by then-Executive District Officer (Education) Ghazanfar Ali Sani on March 9, 2011. All the booklets were recalled in March 2011 and the project was closed. She asked the court to dismiss the petition.
Advocate Azam Nazeer Tarar, counsel for Bargad, submitted that the petitioner’s allegations about the booklets had nothing to do with the NGO, as it had not printed them.
The counsel for the petitioner submitted that he had attached “objectionable excerpts” from the booklet with the petition. He said he also had an original copy of the booklet which the court could examine.
Petitioner Muhammad Tanzeem Arif had submitted that the booklet Ba Ikhtiar Larkian, Badla Hua Samaaj (Empowered Women, A Changed Society) – had been made mandatory for grades 6 to 8 at all government schools for girls in Gujranwala.
He said the book contained material telling girls about the use of contraceptives and “how to have friendships with boys”. He said in a Muslim society, sex education could not be taught at schools.
He said that the findings of an inquiry committee set up by the chief minister must be made public and action taken against the government officials concerned and the NGO.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2012.