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Sindh govt mulls over setting up women’s courts

Karachi- The Sindh government is considering setting up “women’s courts” led by female judges to decide women’s cases while the law department would establish a legal aid committee to provide them with free legal service, Law Minister Muhammad Ayaz Soomro informed the Sindh Assembly session during question hour on Thursday.

“Female judges would be appointed in Grade-18 for separate courts for women,” he said, adding that “evening courts” and speedy trial courts would also be established. “If this were done, it would be a revolutionary step,” Speaker Nisar Khuhro observed.

Minister for Women’s Development Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto said there was only one “Women’s Complaint Centre” in Sindh, established at Larkana in May 2008. She said similar centres would likely be established in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur during the current financial year.

She said an advisory committee and a doctor would also provide counseling and help to the women in Larkana. She said the centre had dealt with around 81 cases so far. She admitted that sometimes, police did not lodge the FIRs of the abused women.

She said the Women’s Development Ministry also gave surety to the First Women’s Bank and other financial institutions to give loan to women for improving their financial position while they also arrange loan for such women without any interest through micro-finance scheme.

She said they also preferred counseling because certain women did not want to bring their problems into the limelight. “We seek resolution of such problems by involving the community,” the minister said. She said they tended to receive complaints about distribution of Zakat and concerned advisory committee deals such issues of women.

She said a hospital was available in Larkana where psychological treatment was being given to emotionally disturbed women.

She said poverty, a desire to study further and the family’s refusal and family matters were adversely effecting women’s psychology. She said the department was in touch with the NGOs at the district level for resolution of women’s problems. She said no legal advisory centre was working in Sindh under the department for providing legal assistance to women.

“It is our priority to set up such legal aid centres,” she said.

On this occasion, the law minister who is also president of the Larkana Bar Association announced that district bar would provide free legal service to the women.

Marvi Rashidi suggested that a committee led by lady legislators should be established to look into women’s problems.

Tauqir Fatima Bhutto said she had held a meeting with the Chief Minister, Sindh, and such committee would be set up.

She said a “committee for female/juvenile prisoners” was set up in 2007 to help female/juvenile prisoners languishing in jails for want of bail surety.

She said so far over Rs1.3 million have been spent on bail surety of female/juvenile prisoners and now no prisoner was languishing in jail in the province for lack of bail surety.

She said as women’s prison in Sukkur was overcrowded, some female prisoners were shifted to Larkana jail.

She said she tended to visit four jails after every three months in the province and look into the problems of women prisoners.

Minister for industries Muhammad Abdul Rauf Siddiqui informed the assembly that SITE Nooriabad had asked for 200 more acres for industries. He said certain expatriate Pakistanis and investors wanted to establish industries there but his department would give preference only to “genuine industrialists.”
Source: The News
Date:9/5/2008

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