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Campaign launched to end violence against women, girls

Islamabad: Local rickshaws inscribed with slogans on violence against women lined up in the compound of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, were the centre of attraction for students, both boys and girls.

These rickshaws were part of an awareness campaign titled ‘Enough: Together We Can End Violence against Women and Girls’ launched to advocate for the elimination of violence against women and generate demands for the effective implementation of pro-women laws by Oxfam and Aurat Foundation on Tuesday.

Launched on the occasion of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, the campaign features a rickshaw drive in 24 districts, across Punjab and Sindh provinces, in which more than 3,000 rickshaws are displaying campaign message, carrying art work and playing feminist folk songs. The rickshaw campaign is championed by rickshaw drivers who are acting as advocates for women rights. The campaign was launched at an event organised at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi.

The event featured inspiring speeches by the guests, screening of a documentary, women anthem ‘Yeh Daikh Zamana Mera Hay’ by Aliya Mirza, musical and theatrical performance by students and feminist poetry by Aliya Mirza.

At the end, a charter of demand was presented demanding implementation of Domestic Violence Bill, inclusion of women political workers in the decision making process of political parties, registration of women voters on priority basis, reservation of 10 per cent quota for party tickets in elections for women, banning publication and promotion of hate material, women friendly environment at police stations, law on early marriage and strengthening of existing institution for the support of VAW victims.

Speaking on this occasion, Justice (Rtd) Nasira Javed Iqbal said despite serious legislative and political measures, 70 to 80 per cent women face violence in Pakistan. She praised the approval of pro-women laws in recent past but also pointed out gaps in the implementation of these laws. In Honor Killing Law, she said that consent agreement or ‘Raazi Nama’ is still an option whereas in Punjab’s Women Protection Act, the act of violence against women is not criminalized. “Despite all these gaps, we are happy for the progress and hope that slowly we will be able to overcome hurdles in the way of implementation,” she said.

First Secretary for Australian High Commission Trasey Graeney said violence against women is a global issue. “One in four women experiences violence in Australia,” she said adding that violence against women has massive impact on families and society. “It restricts women potential to contribute in economic development of a country resulting in huge economic cost,” she added.

Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Khawar Mumtaz stressed for the collaborative efforts and engagement of men to eliminate violence from the society. She said NCSW currently has three priority areas including elimination of VAW, economic independence and political participation of women,” she said.

The News