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AI kicks off campaign for women’s rights

KARACHI, March 5: The Amnesty International on March 2, 2004 launched a two-year-long campaign aimed at end to violence against women.

Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, the AI representatives, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, Dr Habiba Hassan and Ms Zahida Hina, said that the nation wide campaign was part of the global movement launched simultaneously under the auspices of the Amnesty International from its headquarters in London. The AI Secretary General, Irene Khan is leading the global campaign.

They observed that violence against women was a global phenomenon and no society could claim of being free of the menace. In some countries, however, effective laws were there to ensure safety and security to women. The situation in other countries was grim, they said, and regretted that even laws in certain countries did not provide safety to women.

During the campaign, they stated, more than 1.75 million AI members around the world would be mobilized. They would write letters to decision makers, lobby with legislators and raise their voice through statements, etc to highlight the issue so that an improvement in the situation could be brought about through the people at the helm of the affairs in different countries.

In Pakistan, the situation is far from being ideal and the women are facing gender discrimination from the very beginning in almost every field – from education to employment. Even during the childhood, the male child in the family is given preference over a female one, they observed.

Enlisting major crimes against women, they said that Karo-kari, honour killing and domestic violence were rampant in the country. The AI representatives said that efforts were also being made to get the laws discriminatory against women and marginalized sections of the society, reviewed.

Declaring that violence against women could not be justified or tolerated, they said this condemnable act must be stopped. A message from the AI’s Secretary General Irene Khan, which was read out at the press conference, said: “Violence against women is a cancer eating away the core of every society in every country around the globe.

Millions of women are beaten up, raped, murdered, assaulted, mutilated and even denied the right to live. At least one in every three women suffers serious violence in her lifetime.

“From battlefield to bedroom, women are at risk. They are the first to feel a lack of poor social services, the first to be denied education, health care, etc.”

Responding to a question about their or other AI colleagues’ role in the backdrop of the recent Gadap incident where two minor girls were murdered, they said that under the AI’s policy, a member could not issue statements or get involved in the human rights violations occurring in their own country. The policy has been devised for the safety and security of the members, they added.

Source: Dawn

Date:3/6/2004

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