Police violence against women increasing: HRCP -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Police violence against women increasing: HRCP

JAC threatens staging a ‘bizarre’ protest if police violence against protesting women continues
– Thorough investigation demanded into Amir Cheema’s death

LAHORE, May 13 2006: Asma Jahangir, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), along with other human rights organizations, has warned the government of an ‘odd’ protest if the police continued to violently deal with peaceful protesters, especially women.

Asma Jahangir, Muhammad Tehseen, Farooq Tariq and representatives of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) for People’s Rights, along with other non government organizations (NGOs), addressed a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on May 12, where they condemned the rising trend of torture and violence inflicted by policemen on women who protested peacefully during rallies. They also highlighted the government’s negligence in the matter.

“It is highly unfortunate that incidents of policemen’s violence against protesting women are becoming common. These incidents, such as disrobing protesting women, are ignored by state authorities,” said Asma. “This appears to be a political tactic used to stop citizens from protesting for their rights,” she said, adding that police torture inflicted on women was an act of terrorism, and criticised the government for encouraging violence to repress people’s demand for freedom and other basic rights.

Dishonoring women during public protests, she said, was becoming a government policy, adding that if the government did not address the issue, women’s rights activists would stage a peaceful, but ‘odd’ protest in the country. “Even we (women) can protest on the roads by smearing our faces,” she said.

She pointed out examples of police torture inflicted on women during the past few months, where police publicly hit and disgraced women during protests staged by laborers, brick kiln workers, and other activists. She said the government’s negligence was the height of insensitivity and urged government authorities and the supreme judiciary to take notice of the incidents. “These women are the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the people of this country,” she said, adding that police terrorism and violence against women had shattered people’s confidence in the police to the point where they feared visiting police stations. She said that women felt unsafe and insecure in the custody of security forces.

“Police terrorism has reached an extreme and if the government does not take action against such occurrences in the future, women’s rights activists will stage a rather bizarre protest to show the world the status of women in Pakistan,” she said. She also stressed the need for solving the political problems of Balochistan, adding that the death of Amir Cheema in a German prison needed a fair and thorough investigation. HRCP statement: On May 12, the HRCP strongly condemned the manhandling of protesting women by police during the May 11 protest in Karachi.

“The Government of Sindh along with other provincial authorities is responsible for the violent police action taken against women, children and workers who were peacefully protesting against the loss of their jobs,” said the HRCP. According to the HRCP, more than 1,100 workers in the Dadu Sugar Mill suffered from redundancy when the mill shut down illegally, after which they were not given alternative employment. Workers of the Thatta Sugar Mill faced the same complications after its management shut it down, said HRCP activists.

During the protest on May 11, the police arrested more than 200 workers on the instructions of the provincial administration, whom they detained in shabby conditions at various police stations. However, when the Joint Action Committee, along with council members and HRCP activists visited the Clifton Police Station where four women were detained, police officials did not allow the team to meet the detainees, sources said.

The HRCP urged the government to ensure that the workers of the Dadu and Thatta Sugar Mills were not denied their legal rights and were paid their dues and benefits immediately. “The government should also provide medical aid and treatment to demonstrators who were injured by the police and local administration,” said HRCP activists.
Source: Daily Times
Date:5/13/2006