MANY among our women have led defenceless lives without a context – a sad fault of social mores that have governed their right to choice and freedom. However, the Ministry of Women Development (MoWD) and Rozan, an NGO, have stepped forward to ‘ensure support to survivors of violence’ and facilitate their reintegration in society. They have come together in a joint venture for ‘capacity building for state-run women centres’. Recognising the fragile state of a survivor and the hurdles involved in confronting the menace of violence against women, the state has created women centres across Pakistan to offer support and rehabilitation to victims. MoWD has planned 25 centres and 21 are already operational. Rozan, in partnership with the ministry, aims to strengthen the capacity of these centres in order to administer quality care to sufferers. The organisation has been involved with national women centres since 2001 and provides ‘on site services such as counselling and group sessions’. This collaboration will concentrate on three primary areas: trainings, standard operation procedures (SOP) and a pilot project. It will also compile an SOP manual that highlights ‘protocol and procedures for case management, development, follow up of reconciliation cases and skills training’. NGO personnel claim that the document will be ‘sensitive’ to survivor rights and will entail extensive research and consultation with various partners that include government representatives.
However, it may be an idea for these sectors to also focus on the external apparatus that deepens the wounds of a survivor and impedes justice. One such area is the registration of a complaint by a victim; lawyers, government departments and NGOs must ensure that this becomes effortless. Women’s police stations – not enough in number – can play a pivotal role in this area provided their number is enhanced and they are strengthened and sensitised to protect victims of social and domestic violence. Ironically, the journey to collective sensitisation is incomplete with the isolation of the male. There is a need to focus on inculcating understanding amongst men by including families in group counselling sessions and addressing notions of domination with an emphasis on reforming social behaviour. The real answer is a mission of empowerment that makes women secure in both body and mind. This is the ultimate weapon against discrimination and violence that will replace survivors with icons.