Today is International Women’s day and as a social human rights activist i am forced to ponder how many women were we actually able to help during the past one year, how many women any NGO working for the rights of women in this country was able to help and how many would we be able to help if the situation remains the same and the answer is clearly not a positive one.
Women rights are hardly acknowledged in this country. On this eve of women’s day just this morning an article which appears in the Pakistan today talking about a press conference held in Islamabad by Aurat Foundation and Democracy Reporting International where Farkhanda Aurangzeb, representing Aurat Foundation. is quoted to say “Pakistan ratified CEDAW in 1996 but despite passage of many years there are a lot of areas where it is not implemented. Significant problems in Pakistan persist with regards to participation of women as voters as well as candidates,” . But its not just the assemblies in but most importantly also in the law enforcements agencies where there are only a few women holding the top ranking posts where they too feel dominated by their male counter parts. As a result when a woman takes her case to the court she has to deal with a brigade of these male police force investigating and dealing with her case, They would question and investigate her to minute details making her feel even more uncomfortable violated rather than protected.
On a slightly different note The Nation reports the Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif telling people “The Punjab government has taken revolutionary steps, during the last five years, to ensure protection of women rights, and to provide them equal opportunities, due to which women are now playing a vigorous and effectual role in progress, prosperity and development of the country,” but the Chief Minister seems to have completely over looked the fact which appears in this report and i quote the source ” Last year alone, as many as 2,713 cases of violence against women in southern Punjab alone, according to a report by Awaz Foundation Centre for Development. Many of these included walking on burning coal to prove innocence, abduction and torture after abduction, acid attacks, Panchnayat decisions and much, much more. What is even more startling is the fact that this report focused on reports from merely 15 districts and 53 tehsils. It is a startling reminder that there must be a number of unreported cases and how terrifying the overall picture could be for women in the country. “ .
In another yet another article which appears in TheNews today shows results from a research (interviews) conducted by Rutgers World Population Foundation in “Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Jafferabad and Naseerabad ” to evaluated domestic violence against women revealed stunning results _ the newspaper report says “Around 66 per cent of total interviewed women of a survey on violence against women said that they experienced sexual violence whereas 93 per cent said that they experienced marital rape.” .
besides these there are countless number of cases which go unreported in the major cities of the country including Karachi , Lahore and Islamabad of rape and Violante against women, while in the past few years a number of bills for protection of the rights of women have been passed but since infrastructure to support and properly implement is missing these laws are practical rendered useless .
With elections just around the corner, I hope the upcoming government will ensure that these laws are properly implemented, gender equity as practices not only in the assembly but in all the governmental offices, Specially in the law enforcement agencies. I hope the Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif ( because at least he spoke on this issue ) also considers would consider to take practical measures to curb the Violante against women in the Punjab region at least and also think about but working hand in hand with the already existing NGOs and extending his support to them. For the rest of Pakistan i hope the leaders realize the sensitivity of the issue and start to consider working towards ending Violence against women and end this gender inequality.
As part of this society we the people too have the responsibility to speak up and highlight these issues for our rights and the rights of our coming generations.