By Shahid Husain
Karachi: Eminent gynecologist and former Secretary-General of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Dr. Shershah Syed, has said that the vast majority of women in Pakistan suffer physical and verbal abuse even during pregnancy.
“In a survey we conducted at Government Qatar Hospital, Karachi, it was found that 52 per cent of the pregnant women complained of physical and verbal abuse,” he told a seminar held at PMA House on Thursday.
The seminar was held to mark the International Human Rights Day under the auspices of National Organisation for Working Communities. He said the situation was not different in other parts of Pakistan.
Dr. Syed said women in Pakistan were physically and verbally abused when they most needed care. This happens because women in Pakistan have not been granted basic rights as yet, he said.
“Women’s rights are human rights,” he said. “Forty-nine per cent of Pakistan’s population comprises women but they don’t enjoy basic human rights. In such a situation how can we ensure any progress in Pakistan society,” he said.
He said 60 women die in Pakistan in every two hours and 600 become invalid and this was happening in a country whose leaders most loudly boast of having made the atom bomb. He said as many as 30,000 young women die in Pakistan every year because of complications during pregnancy. He said Pakistan does not need a “strong army;” it needed a healthy population. He said it was high time to form a broad-based alliance to fight for primary education to every child, since only education could ensure a vibrant and sane society. He said terrorism was flourishing in the country due to illiteracy and poverty.
He said strangely enough no terrorist has ever been punished by a court of law in Pakistan.
Dr. Tauseef Ahmed Khan, Professor of Mass Communications at the Federal Urdu University, Karachi, said a society could not flourish unless and until it ensured Human Rights. He said previously, the common man did not enjoy any rights but with the advent of industrialisation came education but whatsoever education was available then was mainly confined to men. He said it was after the industrial revolution that people learnt how to fight unitedly.
“The word “people” was coined, carrying the connotation of the largest segment of society, the commonfolk, and with it came the idea of basic Human Rights,” he said. Thereafter, came the idea that it was the responsibility of the State to ensure provision of basic Human Rights to the people, he said.
He said it was after World War II that people realised the importance of peace and United Nations came into being. He pointed out that despite the fact that Pakistan was a signatory to different UN Conventions; its rulers were not ready to accord basic Human Rights to its people.
He said it was a fallacy that the state could be strengthened through massive spending on defence and it was high time that the social sector was given a priority and spending was made in health and education sector.
Mahnaz Rahman, a woman’s rights activist hailing from the Church World Service (Pakistan-Afghanistan), said women’s role was of immense importance for creating peace.
As mothers women were keen to get their children educated and for that purpose, peace was essential, she said.
She said access to clean drinking water, education, health, a place to live and a healthy environment were the basic human rights. She said there couldn’t be justice in a society unless there was peace.
She said women in Pakistan performed double duty. They worked in offices, factories and fields and they also cooked and reared their children. She said terrorism was the main problem in Pakistan and it was an outcome of grave injustices.
“Children in Madrassas are brainwashed and converted into suicide bombers but this has nothing to do with our religion since Islam preaches love and harmony and respect for all religions,” she said.
Trade union activist Nawab Ali said that the judiciary always seems to serve the interests of the State. He said the state of industrial worker in Pakistan could be gauged from the fact that he was paid only Rs 5,000 a month. He said a ban had been imposed on child labour and it was a good step but since the vast majority was suffering from abject poverty and there was dearth of schools, these children were only adding to the force of street children.
Elvis Stephen, a spokesman of minority community said when women and children in Pakistan were suffering from acute problems, one could guess about the existential situation of minorities.
Trade union leader Fareed Awan said Pakistan had no sense of direction even after 62 years of its existence.
He said Pakistan could not claim to be a sovereign state since decisions about this country were made abroad.
Awami Party Convener Hasan Nasir said only struggle at the grassroots level could ensure Human Rights. He said unless the basic character of the state was changed, basic rights to the people could not be ensured.
Muthahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Talat Sultana said MQM was against terrorism and stood for peace. Umar Abbas of the National Organisation for Working Communities said that the right to form a union was the basic right of a worker and since people don’t enjoy basic rights in Pakistan, we witness so much violence and terrorism.
Source: The News