By: Akbar Bajwa
LAHORE: The government has approved the inclusion of a chapter on protection of women from violence in Punjab textbooks, The Express Tribune has learnt.
According to details, the development was first discussed in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in March on the establishment of Violence against Women Centres province-wide. Sharif had given the green light to the proposal, which was formulated by the Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit (SMU), on the occasion.
SMU Senior Member Salman Sufi told The Express Tribune that the VAWC implementation committee had later briefed the Punjab Curriculum & Textbook Board secretary on the proposal. The secretary had issued a notification with regard to the inclusion of a chapter on protection of women from violence in matric and intermediate Urdu textbooks following the briefing.
Quoting statistics from the office of the Investigations DIG and the Public Prosecution Department, Sufi said as many as eight women were raped, 11 assaulted, 32 abducted and six faced murder attempt in the Punjab everyday. Shedding light on the text set to be included in the curriculum, he said the chapter would educate students regarding the perils of violence and encourage peaceful settlement of disputes.
Sufi said the chapter would be comprehensive in nature. He said the text would address the root cause of violence against women and adequately equip students with the intellectual ability to tackle social challenges without resorting to violence. Sufi said the chapter would also include details regarding women shelters and ways by which victims could secure access to justice after being subjected to violence.
The SMU senior member told The Express Tribune that the chief minister was determined to make the province safe for women. He said after establishing violence against women centres, the government had further strengthened its efforts in the sector by taking this “landmark” step. Sufi said the timing of the initiative was also auspicious as it came at a time when 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, a UN Women initiative, was being marked the world over.
Noted rights activist Asma Jehangir praised the idea. She told the The Express Tribune: “It’s an excellent idea. It is very important for schoolchildren to be cognisant of the fact that men and women have equal rights and that men cannot treat women cruelly in any circumstances.”Jehangir said the SMU’s initiative had the potential to cultivate amicable and pacific relations among citizens province-wide if it was effectively implemented.