KARACHI: There were the parents thinking they were doing a responsible thing by getting their 16-year-old daughter married. They had brought her up keeping in mind that she will one day have to run her own house and bring up children and they were proud of their upbringing. But then they met someone who thought they were being cruel for marrying their underage daughter. He questioned why they had not brought up their sons the same way, too. And then he informed them about the law they were violating by marrying a minor girl and how they faced criminal charges against them if they went ahead with their plans.
That was when the message actually sunk in and the wedding was quickly cancelled. The above is a scene from a play acted out by the culture action group Tehrik-i-Niswan in connection with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
“This is how we spread important messages to the masses,” said Sheema Kermani at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Friday. She shared her plan to perform at the Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Public Library near Mansoor Hallaj Chowk in Sachal Goth between 3pm and 6pm on Saturday.
“Incidents of violence are common in our country and in our society women are considered lesser humans as compared to men because of their gender,” she said.
“There is honour killing, underage marriages, acid attacks, rape and sexual harassment at workplaces that have become very common and rampant in our society and country,” she added.
“Through this programme we aim to spread the message of elimination of violence against women and gender equality to each and every segment of our society and we want to spread awareness that violence against women is bad, negative and toxic and equality among genders is the only way ahead,” she said.
Nuzhat Shirin, chairperson of the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women, said that their mandate was to make people respect the laws made to combat such crimes of violence against women. “For that we need to spread awareness of rights of women and pro-women laws as people who suffer such crimes don’t even know their rights,” she said.
Social worker and political activist Nomi Bashir then narrated a recent incident in which three to four women of Mohammad Khan Goth were seen running from pillar to post after the land mafia threw them out of their homes and got their men arrested.
Karamat Ali, executive director of Piler, said that 83 per cent of Pakistani households live on an income which amounts to less than two dollars. “The effects of earning less than Rs3,000 fall on women who get less food to eat, the girls are not sent to school and when the females in the house fall ill they also don’t receive medical care,” he said. “This is how 70pc mothers are anaemic and 73pc children malnourished here,” he explained.