Workshop in District Shikarpur on Violence against Women
February 22-24, 2007
The workshop was attended by twenty participants from the print and electronic media with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency.
The objectives of the workshop were to develop the capacity of journalists in covering human rights issues, specifically on violence against women in their locality and to appraise them in feature writing on women issues.
Participants discussed various forms of violence. Local journalist Manzoor Gul Jakhro, designation/organisation said cruelty and suppression is one form violence against women. Muhammad Aslam Soomro of Daily Kawish said expelling women from their houses is also another form of violence against women while Noor Muhammad of Daily Jang and GEO TV said beating and gender discrimination is violence against women. Other participants termed not giving inheritance rights and murder as violence against women.
During the discussion, it was observed that the violence could be (1) physical, (2) mental, and (3) sexual.
Beating is a form of physical violence, while abusing and forced marriages are forms of mental violence.
Activity exercise was conducted for the participants To understand the concept of violence against women. Groups were formed and each was assigned the task of taking up one incident and to investigate the cause that led to the act. One group chose an incident in which a woman was blamed by her husband to have committed adultery with the man to whom her husband had to pay a debt. The woman was killed by her husband. He got away with the debt as the tribal court also convicted the man to whom the he had to pay the debt. Another group chose an incident in which a woman was raped by her brother in law and was alleged karo —kari and then killed.
Khalid Ahmed Soomro of Daily Juraat said women are being kidnapped for sexual violence and sometimes even murdered to conceal the act. PPF Coordinator Naseem Shaikh said on the occasion sometimes an individual is involved in violence, while sometime groups are involved in it.
The next part of the workshop involved a panel of speakers invited to participate in the discussions.
Organiser of Sartiyoon Welfare Organization, Safia Abbassi said district Shikarpur was rated the highest in Sindh for incidents of violence on women its district Ghari Yaseen Taluka contributed for 80 percent of such incidents. She said tribal clashes amongst 32 clans have marred district Shikarpur, adding that local tribal chiefs do not want to end
She said female survivors of violence and those labeled as Kari need protection and it is the responsibility of the government and civil society to set up shelter houses for such women in Shikarpur district and provide them free legal aid through the access to a panel of female lawyers free of cost She stated that young girls of Shikarpur cannot continue their education due to sexual
harassment by men. According to Abbasi, this attitude depicts the thinking of society. According to Bhutto, designation/org , they cover themselves veils to avoid hostile looks of people sitting at tea-stalls. He said that incidents of acid throwing are also on the rise in the district. He said that the whole district has become a ‘torture house’and urged that efforts should be carried out from various platforms to end this menace.
Another expert of the panel, senior advocate Anwar Shaikh said civil society institutions were formed in Shikarpur in 1984, but implementation took place in the year 2000. He said tribal chiefs are against changing the social system to maintain their influence .He said women are targeted in land disputes, and killed as Kari, while the killers go unpunished. He said in most cases of the killing of women their close relatives are found involved. He said male family members of victims settle the dispute out of courts, according to old customs and that this is why cases of Karo-kari are on the rise in the area. He suggested that if the culprits are brought to justice and media highlights such issues , the menace of Karo-kari can be contained to a large extent.
The third expert, social worker Rahim Bux Bhutto said violence inflicted on women is a major issue of this area. He said that incidents of Karo-kari in Sindh are more prevalent than in Balochistan. He said all local newspapers are filled with news of Karo-kari and tribal clashes and now these incidents have become a common practice residents have become indifferent towards such incidents.
Taluka Nazim Ghari Yaseen Najjaf Ali Kamario said with the passage of time the issue of violenceis on the rise, but the elected representatives are attempting to improve the situation. He said that Ghari Yaseen has been neglected since long, the majority of local residents lack social awareness. He stressed the need to mobilize the people and change their mindset .
Kamario claimed that in many cases local journalists filed biased and subjective stories. He urged them to be objective and impartial in their reporting. He said before attempting to change others one should also try to change oneself.
He distributed certificates amongst the workshop participants.
|List of Speakers|
|Najjaf Ali Kamario||
|Rahim Bux Bhutto||
|Ghari Yaseen Social Welfare Organization|
|Sartiyoon Welfare Organization Apa|
|Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)|