Human rights activists stressed the need for creating awareness in society about the various forms of violence against women at a discussion held to mark the international campaign, 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The panel discussion titled “Role of Women Commissions in Ending Violence Against Women” was organised by the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW) in collaboration with UN Women in the city last week.
The event highlighted the role of SCSW and other relevant government departments in putting an end to violence against women. The SCSW finally began working in September this year when the Sindh government approved the appointment of its chairperson, two years after the bill meant to launch the commission was approved back in April 2015.
In her opening remarks, Aisha Mukhtar, programme lead at UN Women, congratulated the government on the establishing the SCSW and highlighted the work UN Women had done on ending violence against women. She also offered her organisation’s support to further strengthen the Sindh commission in the future.
SCSW Chairperson Nuzhat Shireen said that gender-based violence is among the priority issues that the commission is working on. “The commission members are well-oriented and capable of tackling the issue of violence against women in the province. In this regard, a strategy is under discussion to develop a GBV-free model district in the province,” she said.
Amar Sindhu, a Hyderabad-based prominent women’s rights activist, said the prevalence of a strong jirga system in Sindh was one of the biggest challenges to ending GBV. “It will take a long time to end violence against women in the province. There is lot of work needed to sensitise people about the issue,” she said.
Anis Haroon, member of the National Commission on Human Rights, said that violence against women should be considered a crime against the state and that autonomous bodies such as the SCSW should be free from all political pressures and make accountable govt.
“Women’s rights are human rights,” said Justice Majida Rizvi, Chairperson of Sindh Human Rights Commission. She added that the laws under which the commission has been established needed further review in order to make the commission stronger.
Congratulating the Sindh government on the formation of the SCSW, Fouzia Waqar, Chairperson of the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, said that the Punjab government has trained 60,000 nikkah khawans and local government staffers to combat violence against women and girls. She also extended her organisation’s support to the SCSW. The chief of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women also spoke on the occasion.