Awareness termed critical to counter violence against women -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Awareness termed critical to counter violence against women

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar on Thursday stressed that creating awareness about the law on violence against women and access to justice was more important for women who are victims of violence.

The seminar, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Women`s Organisation for Rights and Development (Word), discussed legislative measures to protect women and girls from violence.

Experts said passing legislation was an important step but the architects of such laws need to understand the local perspective and mindset about violence against women. They added that all international norms and regulations could not be translated into local society.

Kira Zaporski, vice consul general US embassy, informed the audience about the background and reasons for formulating `US Violence against Women Act 1994`.

She said the law was being implemented in coordination with organisations at the local level in the respective states.

“We need to think about different ways of countering violence against women,” she said. She suggested more brainstorming, elimination of gaps, follow-ups and assessment plans according to respective cultures to curb violence against women.

Dr Fouzia Saeed, chairperson National Implementation Watch Committee (NIWC), informing the seminar about the legal situation in Pakistan, said numerous problems surfaced not only in drafting laws but also in getting them approved because of the prevailing mindset.

She also stressed that change of attitude is a major issue but it can also a significant facilitator. Dr Fouzia said the current focus was to set up mechanisms within organisations. “The State Bank of Pakistan has issued guidelines to various banks to adopt the code of conduct,” she said.

Aqsa Khan, director Word, said the law provided an opportunity to organisations to develop self regulatory mechanisms and handle sexual harassment cases internally.

She asked the organisations to transform their institutional culture by creating zero tolerance to sexual harassment and ensuring dignified environment for men and women workers.
Source: Dawn
Date:12/10/2010