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Approve domestic violence bill before tenure ends, suggest human rights activists

KARACHI: HRCP claims more than 8,500 women became victims of domestic violence. The Sindh Assembly should pass the domestic violence bill before its tenure comes to an end. This was the call that made the rounds at a conference held to observe the Human Rights Day at the PMA House on Monday.

“A debate on the bill is initiated after every few days in the provincial assembly but nothing has been done so far,” said the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairperson, Zohra Yusuf. Her organisation was among the nine civil society organisations, including the Aurat Foundation, PILER, Shirkat Gah, which came together at the seminar titled “Unite to End Violence against Women”.

“We were hoping the bill would be approved after it became a provincial subject. Now we have to pressure the government to pass the law before its term ends,” added Yusuf.

Last year, around 8,500 women became victims of violence and these figures are increasing, she quoted from the Aurat Foundation’s report though appreciating that cases are being registered in a better percentage. “In the past few years, seven pro-women bills have been passed but their implementation needs work,” Yusuf lamented.

Despite women parliamentarians and activists working together to draft the domestic violence bill, the law and home departments have come up with their own bill which does not include any punishments for the perpetrator, claimed Malka Khan of the Aurat Foundation.

Giving the example of Balochistan, Illahi Buksh, the director of Strengthening Participatory Organisation, remarked that human rights were the most violated rights in the country.

He suggested that next year, a larger convention should be held and reports regarding the state of human rights handed out to the masses so that victims get a voice.

With the general elections coming up, a movement should be started to encourage political participation of women, suggested Hina Tabassum from Forum Human Rights Pakistan. “In the 2008 elections, at 200 polling stations no women turned up to vote,” she said. “Human rights activists should work in such areas where women are deprived of their right to vote.”

Hassan Athar of the Asian Human Rights Commission stressed the need to recruit women as legal staffers as well as prosecutors in courts.

Citing the recent tragedy at garment factory fire that left over 250 people dead, Farhat Parween, the executive director of NOW communities, discussed the plight of women labourers. “A large number of women are employed at garment factories but these places are without health and safety provisions.

The Express Tribune