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Women still deprived of due status

KARACHI, Nov 29: There has been no improvement in the life of womenfolk as the weaker segment the society continues to endure the longstanding problems of domestic violence, gender bias, honour killing, harassment at workplaces and other sorts of discrimination in the male-dominated social set-up. While urban as well as rural women live a miserable life, successive governments have failed to do more than paying lip services over decades.

This was the consensus view of the activists representing 14 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who spoke at a programme held here on Friday.

Spearheaded by the Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace (PWFP), the NGOs had organised the programme jointly to remind the government of its responsibilities towards ensuring a respectable and equal status for women in the country.

The introduction to the forum titled Strategies for the elimination of violence against women was given by the PWFP’s Nargis Rahman, who said the masses needed to work together to overcome the issues relating to women�s rights and such issues that were eroding society.

According to her, feudal lords and their jirga system are so strong that they are affecting rural as well as urban life badly. Ulema have also been playing a negative role when it comes to giving womenfolk their due status and rights as enshrined in Shariah and the country’s constitution.

Referring to the rejection of bills pertaining to women�s rights in the elected houses, she observed that different interpretations were made to suit men’s views.

Jehan Ara Hai, Vice-President of APWA, suggested that dissolution of marriage (khula) should be made easy for women and that the Council of Islamic Ideology should have women representatives as well.

Hina Tabassum of the Aurat Foundation observed jirgas played a key role in honour killings, and said that those supporting the jirga system were sitting in the parliament and cabinets which was against democratic values. She also demanded repeal of laws on qisas and diyat.

Begum Shirin Rahmatullah of the Senior Citizens Association, Sabiha Moosvi of the Lyari Development Authority,

Zia Awan of the Madadgar Helpline, Ms Pathani of the Thardeep and Rashida Patel of the PAWLA were among the others who spoke at the programme.
Source: Dawn
Date:11/30/2008

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