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Women’s victimization in Swat condemned

ISLAMABAD: About 122 girls’ schools have been destroyed and 62 closed down in Swat after receiving threats from Taliban, which have deprived about 119,248 girls of their right to get education. Though, the government ensured several times that the girls’ education in Swat will be restored by reopening and reconstructing the schools, so far nothing has been observed in this regard.

The guest speakers highlighted these issues in a one-day seminar held here on Thursday to discuss the situation in Swat titled, ‘Violence In the Name of Religion and Extremism”, to mark the Pakistani’s Women Day that is being celebrated every year on February 12 to mark police brutality against women in Lahore, organised here by the Insani Haqooq Itehad (IHI).

The purpose of the seminar was to raise voice against victimisation of women and also recommending policy measures for effectively combating militancy and providing immediate relief and rehabilitation to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Besides, the event aimed at giving a wake up call to the society against the ongoing operation, inhumane acts of militants and projecting the plight and miseries of the violence- hit areas in NWFP and adjoining tribal areas.

The guest speakers included Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Social Sector, Hashim Babar, additional secretary General of Awami National Party, Eng. Shaukat Ullah, MNA from Bajaur Agency, civil society representatives and IDPs from Swat.

The guest speakers demanded of the government and political leaders to take urgent steps to stop the anti-women acts of Taliban in Swat district.

They said that these acts are similar to the terror created by Zia regime. The speakers urged the government to take effective measures for checking the militancy, extending writ of the government, improving law and order situation and announcing a relief and development package for the violence-hit areas.

The speakers also lamented that the poor response of provincial and federal government representatives by not visiting affected area and showing solidarity with the affected communities. They also criticised the lack of government initiatives for timely tackling the emergency situation and not taking due relief and rehabilitation measures for the IDPs.

The civil society demands include; provision of basic needs such as food, shelter, education and health facilities to IDPs, closure of the radio broadcasts that are spewing hate and violence and terrorising the people.

All policy decisions must be taken by the elected government; the military must be subservient to elected representatives, the government must dispel the impression that Army and Taliban are two sides of the same coin and the government must stop indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombing which causes widespread death and destruction among the civilian.

“We must not allow any group to terrorise citizens especially women and girls by making their own laws and enforcing them”, said Sameena Nazir, director Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA) while addressing the participants.

She said adding that Taliban’s call for blowing up girls’ schools in Swat is illegal, inhuman and unacceptable. She urged the government to ensure that all schools are opened in Swat on 1st March 2009 as announced by the minister of information Sherry Rehman on national TV.

Sharing the background she said that in December Taliban announced that all girls’ schools must be closed in Swat by 15 January 2009. As a result all schools have been shut down. Some teachers teach in hiding and parents are afraid to send their daughters to schools.

Other guest speakers said that this announcement by non-state actors like Taliban is extremely dangerous and a clear challenge to the writ of the government. These restrictions also violate the Islamic teachings that make education compulsory for both men and women.

They said that if the government did not adopt any concrete strategy women in Swat will be deprived of their fundamental right to education that is guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan (article 25) and also in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) ratified by Pakistan in April 2008.
Source: Business Recorder
Date:2/13/2009

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