Forced marriages in Pakistan Young Voices
Islam, which declared equality between men and women, In matters of marriage a woman was given equal right to choose her life partner However, in our practical lives, we are influenced by a host of other prejudices bequeathed by history, and tradition Male chauvinism and compulsions of conceited ego should not be confused with Islamic values. An enlightened approach is called for. Forced marriage is thus clearly recognized as a violation of fundamental rights guarantees contained in the national constitution. The law in each case also criminalizes aspects of the practice.
Forced marriage occurs within diverse cultures, traditions, nationalities, races and religions. Available reports indicate that the incidence of such cases in the Arab states is diminishing. As is now increasingly well-recognized, forced marriages differ from arranged marriages, a practice common with Arab communities and among Muslim communities in non- Arab countries especially in India and Pakistan. Crucially, the difference turns on consent, in that the woman concerned may consent to an arranged marriage, but does not consent to a forced marriage.
Forced marriage- any marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties- may involve coercion, mental abuse, emotional blackmail, and intense family or social pressure. In the most extreme cases, it may also involve physical violence, abuse, abduction, detention, and murder of the individual concerned. CEDAW has recognized that the practice of forced marriages – “marriages arranged for payment or preferment. On the basis of custom, religious beliefs or the ethnic origins of particular groups of people”- continues to prevail in certain countries.
It has emphasized the significance of the right of “ A woman has right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to her life and her dignity and equality as a human being” The committee has further stated that, “Subject to reasonable restrictions, based for example on a woman youth or consanguinity with her partner, a woman has right to choose when, if, and whom she will marry must be protected and enforced by law.” Reported cases indicate that many of those forced into marriage are very young, including girls under eighteen years old. In recognition of the practice of child marriages, which are forced marriages by definition, since children do not have the capacity to give consent, the CEDAW Committee also noted that -+ The betrothal of girls or undertakings by family members on their behalf.
All cases of forced marriage involve the right to marry and to personal liberty and security, including freedom from arbitrary detention. The more extreme cases may also implicate the right to life, the right to bodily integrity, including freedom from gender- based violence, the prohibitions on slavery or practices similar to slavery; the right to access to justice, the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law; the right to an effective remedy and the right to freedom from gender- based discrimination.
The International Declaration of Human Rights recognizes each of the rights enumerated above. In addition Bangladesh and Pakistan are bound to respect these rights by their treaty obligations under several major international human rights instruments.
They are parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women, 1979 (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1990 (CRC), and the Supplementary Convention on Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery 1956.
SMEDA launching Women’s Business Incubation Centre
LAHORE: The Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) has started setting up a Women’s Business Incubation Centre (WBIC) in Lahore to encourage them to launch full commercial ventures from private home based businesses. The centre, likely to be set up on Peco Road by the end of this month, will be the first of its kind in the country. It will be managed by women. There are 25 self-contained offices in the centre with air-conditioning systems, desks, chairs, storage racks, private telephone lines with voice mail, wireless internet connectivity, car parking facility, library, art/computer room, fax machines and tea area.
It also has a training hall with a seating capacity of 30 to 40 persons that would be available for group sessions and meetings with their clients. A display centre is also being constructed within the centre in which products of up to 10 enterprises could be exhibited at a time. Display supervisors will be present for 10 hours a day, six days a week. Project Manager Aisha Amjad told Daily Times that the WBIC was meant for women from diverse backgrounds reflecting a number of different types of women’s businesses especially dealing in manufacturing, trading or service sector. “But there is flexibility to accommodate novel business ideas,” she said. “There will be female professional business advisers to help the clients overcome any fears and barriers preventing them from turning their business ideas and aspirations into reality.”
A variety of training programmes, workshops, and seminars would be arranged at the centre, she said, to enhance the capabilities of women entrepreneurs and to give them necessary information, new business ideas and strong business links. The display centre was a unique opportunity for women to show their potential buyers the product quality and designs at Rs 2,500 per stall per week, she said, five times less than the market rate in the area. The maximum time period for holding a stall is 6 weeks and the minimum one week. “This policy is calculated to accommodate as many clients as possible,” she said, adding that the display centres would provide the clients a chance to assess the market demand, learn about quality standards and train them in dealing with their clients.
Offices at the centre would be available on monthly rent, she said. No personal guarantee is required, just a one-month security deposit. The rent for a medium office (10 offices of 250 square feet) would be Rs 12,500, she said, adding that the market rate was about 30,000 to 40,000. The leasing time will be from six months to two years. The single person offices (15 offices of 100 square feet each) will be available at Rs 5,000 a leasing period of six months to two years. The market rate is about Rs 15,000, she added.
She said it was a pilot project and depending upon the response it gets in Lahore, the project will be extended to other cities of the province. SMEDA had formed a committee that would ensure that the offices are let to the right people, she added.
Objectives of the Women’s Business Incubation Centre
* A secure environment for women’s business activities
* Providing business development services
* A platform focusing on economic empowerment of women in trade
* Exposure to networking opportunities and new ideas of business expansion
* Training women entrepreneurs for skill development and capacity building.
Source: The Nation