Women urged to unite for their rights – International Women's Day -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Women urged to unite for their rights – International Women’s Day

KARACHI, March 8,2005: Speakers at various programmes on Tuesday stressed that women will have to wage a long struggle to get their rights, which though had been guaranteed by the constitution and religion, were not being given to them by the male dominant society.

This was observed by speakers at various functions organized by numerous government as well as non-governmental organizations in connection with the International Women’s day celebrated on Tuesday.

They said that though the government was a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and was bound to formulate local laws in conformity with its international commitments, very little had been done in this regard.

They called for abolition of all laws that were discriminatory towards the weaker sections of society including children, minorities, and particularly women, who were 50 per cent of the population. They said a nation could not progress in true sense if half of its population was not allowed to perform its functions normally.

Criticising the government’s proposal to lower the number of women seats in the local bodies, they opposed the idea. They added that the women councillors be given more powers so that they could play their role in the national upliftment.

They said time and again women had proved that whenever equal opportunities were provided, they had proved that they were second to none. They said the results of various examinations had also shown that many top ranking positions had been achieved by female students.

They also criticized President Pervez Musharraf for saying that Capt Hamad, a suspect in the Dr Shazia Khalid rape case was innocent, and said that it was in fact an attempt to influence the inquiry in this regard.

Speaking at a seminar on “Violence against women and role of society”, they said society’s mindset – that was biased against women – had to be changed to bring about any qualitative change in the status of women.

The seminar was organized by the Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights. Justice (Retd) Shaiq Usmani, Anis Haroon, Dr Sher Shah, Mazhar Abbas and others spoke at the forum conducted by Aisha Mir.

They suggested that gender sensitization trainings should be conducted for personnel of law-enforcement agencies and the judiciary, so that their attitude becomes friendly and sympathetic while dealing with cases of violence against women, rape etc.

They said that police usually did not carryout proper investigations in cases related to honour killings etc, owing to which culprits were usually acquitted, and even sentenced, were awarded very lenient punishment. They also demanded that no compromise should be allowed in honour killing cases, as it encouraged the crime.

They demanded that Hudood, Zina, Qisas and Diyat ordinances and other discriminatory laws be abolished, adding that the number of women in jails had multiplied manifold after the promulgation of these ordinances. A documentary highlighting women issues was also screened. Atiya Dawood presented her poetry highlighting issues being faced by women.

FORUM: The audience present at a forum organized by the Karachi Women’s Peace Committee in a unanimously adopted resolution said a lot more was needed to be done, as measures undertaken by the government for women empowerment were inadequate to facilitate women into mainstream national development.

Justice (Retd) Nasira Javed Iqbal, who was the chief guest, said the recently formulated honour killing law had been watered down, saying the provision for allowing compromise would be widely misused. She also suggested that at present a punishment for gang rape was death, recommending that there should also be provision for life sentence. Besides, she said that the rapists’ property should be given to the rape victim.

Citing an example, she said she and another judge had tried a gang rape case and the other judge was not willing to give the death penalty to the accused, as according to him, he could not give the death penalty to four men for raping a woman, who had survived. And, since there was no other penalty, the judge, therefore, acquitted them, “though I did not agree”, she added.

She said that recently when efforts were made by a PML (Q) parliamentarian to present a women’s rights bill, the MMA and the PML (Q) joined hands and blocked the bill. She urged women parliamentarians to rise above party politics and always support and vote jointly whenever a law regarding women’s rights was being discussed or presented in the House.

Nargis Rehman and others also spoke. Earlier, prizes were given to Shazaf Fatima, Hira Syed and Naomi Jamal – all intermediate students – for their speeches.

JAMAAT-I-ISLAMI: Speakers at a seminar stressed that Islam guaranteed rights of women and that men had been made responsible for providing her (woman) subsistence. They stressed that the capabilities of women should not be misused, and their exploitation be stopped.

Speaking at the seminar, organized by the Jamaat Islami’s Women Education Forum, they said that not following religion was one of the major reasons for the increasing instances of domestic violence.

They demanded that women should not be used for commercial purposes. Atiya Nisar, Anjum Afshan, Tasleem Durrani, Rehana Afroze, Razia Korejo, Rakhshanda Naz and other also spoke.

MQM: Speakers at a meeting, organized by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Women Wing, said though a lot of lip-service was paid to improving the status of women, very little work was being done.

Speaking at the seminar held at the Khursheed memorial Hall in Azizabad, they said the MQM had done a lot to improve the status of women and had highlighted issues like karo kari at various forms.

They urged women to get educated so they became aware of their rights, adding that when they get to know their rights, they would be able to make efforts to eventually get them.

PPP RALLY: A procession was taken out by the PPP in connection with the international women’s day from the Regal Chowk, which after passing through various city streets, concluded at the Karachi Press Club.

Farzana Baloch, Shahla Raza, Humaira Alwani, Shama Mithani and others spoke at the procession, which later turned into a rally. The speakers claimed that the present government was exploiting women under the garb of progress and moderation.

They said the government despite its claims of being women friendly could not do anything to protect Dr Shazia Khalid, Mukhtaran Bibi etc. They demanded that justice be done to them.

WOMEN ACHIEVER: A programme was organized by the Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Pakistan to recognize those women, who had excelled in their respective fields. Onder Yucer of the UNDP, Zarine Aziz, Tariq Kirmani, Akberali Pesnani, and others spoke on the occasion.

WALK: A walk was organized by the Centre of Excellence for Women Studies at the University of Karachi. Sindh Youth Affairs Minister Qamar Mansoor, KU Vice Chancellor Dr Pirzada Qasim and others participated in the walk.

DEMO: A large number of people participated in a demo organized by the Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights.
Source: Dawn
Date:3/9/2005