Domestic violence attributed to feudal mindset
KARACHI, March 15,2005: Speakers at a seminar described feudal mindset as root-cause of all social evils, particularly domestic violence and gender-based discrimination. They called for a strong legal system for protecting women’s rights.
The seminar on Women’s Rights was addressed by former law minister Syed Iqbal Haider, Uzma Noorani and Beena Sarwar. It was held under the aegis of the Pakistan Press Foundation at Vicky Zeiltin Library here on Monday. The event was part of the three-day workshop on Domestic Violence which is being attended by media people from different districts of the province.
Uzma Noorani expressed her views on the plight of a big majority of local women with particular reference to domestic violence. She referred to the annual report 2004 of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) stating that no less than 80 per cent of women were subjected to domestic violence.
This is in a scenario where cases are generally not reported as the offence is committed within the four walls and witnesses are the family members who would not make the offence public.
Mentioning that wife-battering dominates domestic violence, she said this was reflective of the imbalance of powers in the two genders. Woman is mostly denied the right to ask for removal of her grievances.
Strongly dispelling the myths attached to domestic violence in society, and the explanation that it was not restricted to third world societies only but was also prevalent in the developed countries, she stressed on sensitizing society to ensure that such cases were voluntarily reported and the victims received due sympathies and got justice.
Ms Noorani also regretted lack of woman-friendly and congenial atmosphere at local police stations which, she observed, was a major hurdle in creating courage in women to report and pursue their cases.
The crime against women committed by their own family members ranged from amputation of body organs – nose, hand, leg, etc. – and acid-throwing to honour killing, she pointed out.
Syed Iqbal Haider, in his presentation, called for adequate legislation on women’s rights and strict implementation of the same. Citing Article 31 of the constitution that guarantees state support for shelter and protection to women, he stressed implementation of the recommendations put forward in August 1997 by the Women Status Commission, headed by Justice (r) Nasir Aslam Zahid.
He urged the concerned authorities to promote ‘enlightened moderation’, and said that effective measures were required for social, economic and political empowerment of women.
Endorsing the views expressed by Ms Noorani, he suggested formation of a women police force in association with the adequately sensitized male policemen to help mitigate agony of violence victims.
He said that the government should assign ambassadorial responsibilities to women and promote them to top-most service cadres, such as secretaries, at both federal and provincial levels.
Beena Sarwar urged journalists to highlight all women issues with main focus being on sensitizing masses without sensationalizing the issues related to violence against women.