Gender equality: Draft bills related to women’s rights yet to become laws

Legislations still pending with the women parliamentary caucus.

Maha Mussadaq November 26, 2013
A giant installation set up in the middle of the hall calls attention to violence against women. PHOTO: EXPRESS


Despite passing several gender-based laws over the past decade, a number of laws remain pending with the women parliamentary caucus.

These were the words of Senator Nuzhat Sadiq at a press conference organised by End Violence against Women and Girls Alliance (EVAWG) on Monday. Sadiq said new legislation such as Prevention of Anti Women Practices Bill laws and anti-sexual harassment at work places, serious incidents of violence against women continue to occur regularly in the country.

A member of the WPC told The Express Tribune that bills pending with the WPC include those related to Child Sexual Abuse, Domestic violence and minimum representation for women in political and legislative process.

According to Sadiq the delay for some laws lapsed has been due to the change of government and the WPC General Council Meeting, scheduled for the currently week, will take up the challenge of working on the bills.

“For better understanding of the issues, help from a number of parliamentarians with legal expertise will also be sought,” she added.

Alarmingly, the state of women in Pakistan remains just a slot above Yemen in international ranking and a large number of female parliamentarians are working together to assure that the concerns of women are addressed through these legislation, Sadiq said.

The implemented legislation continue to be the light at the end of the tunnel though many women in Pakistan are still not aware of policies on gender and international conventions introduced in the country in this regard.

The senator further implored that not a single reliable source existed to gather gender-specific data for better research and analysis of the issue at large.

As the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls campaign kick starts here, EVAWG presented its own set of recommendations for the government to act upon. It suggested that the government reform discriminatory laws and procedures that currently govern the criminal justice system, law enforcement and investigations, prosecution, medico-legal examination, forensic testing, and witness protection.

Sisters Trust’s Rehana Hashmi, who has been working for women’s rights since the past 26 years, suggested that the government establish a women’s ministry again while  strengthening the National Commission on the Status of Women by establishing provincial commissions.

A baseline survey on gender disparities conducted in 48 flood-affected locations of eight districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh earlier this year shows that out of the 4,068 women and 3,964 men of 8,032 households surveyed, almost 100 per cent of Muslim men don’t give equal rights to their women. Even with legislation in place, more than 60% female and 50% male respondents agreed that men in their households use violent means against their womenfolk, said a press statement issued by Pattan Development Organisation.

The Ending Violence against Women and Girls Alliance in Pakistan, in collaboration with Insani Huqooq Ittehad, initiated a number of activities including consultations, a signature campaign, media campaigns, and a press conference to demand effective prevention and response services for survivors of violence.

The activities will conclude on 10 December.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2013.


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