Women’s Action Forum celebrates 25th anniversary
By Zar Nageen
KARACHI: The Women’s Action Forum (WAF) on the occasion of its 25th anniversary reprimanded the inability of female legislatures to support the amendments to the Hudood Ordinance. The event was attended by Aurat Foundation Director Anis Haroon, Prof Haroon Ahmed, Human Rights Commission Chairman Iqbal Haider, Salma Murad and Zubaida Mustufa. Naib Nazima Nasreen Jalil, while addressing the ceremony, said that women constituted 51 percent of the population of Pakistan, but the feudal mentality of certain elements in society opposed amendments to the Hudood Ordinance since it would give greater rights to women in the country. She said that a specific portion of religious leaders continues to misguide people about the clauses regarding Zina bil-Raza in the Hudood Ordinance. She said that they were doing this in order to deprive women of their legal rights.
Jalil informed the audience of how the Aurat Foundation supported homeless women after no-go areas were set up in the city. The naib nazima said that when she was a part of the senate during the Benazir regime, people used to question her about why she did not raise her voice against the crimes against women. She said that she realized that it was futile to raise her voice against the abuse of women in a country where women were mistreated even during a woman’s regime. Jalil said that opposition and the religious leaders put up roadblocks when the government wants to do something to improve the situation of women in the country today.
PPP MPA Sassi Palejo said that Benazir Bhutto tried her best to amend laws to provide greater rights to women, but none of her suggestions were heeded. She said that the government and the MMA should stop holding discussions about the Hudood Ordinance outside the parliament – such discussions belonged in the parliament. Palejo further said that the current handicapped women’s parliament should be taken into confidence before passing any laws related to women. Anis Haroon said that even though the Aurat Foundation had been struggling for women’s rights for the past 25 years, there was no change in the status of women in society even today. “Even today women are brutalized in the name of religion,” Haroon added.
WAF member Najma Siddiqui said that WAF was established in 1981, during a time when General Zia’s policies were casting a shadow over the laws of the country, especially those pertaining to women and their right. She said that the WAF rose as an active organization then, and its members protested against the government’s policies and alleged attempts towards the ‘islamization’ of the society on February 12, 1983. WAF members also presented a resolution that denounced, among others, issues such as the Hudood Ordinance, Swara, Vani, Karo Kari, amendments to labour laws, the military operations in Balochistan and the aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine and Lebanon.
Source: Daily Times