PESHAWAR: Even after 10 years, the Social Welfare Department and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women have not notified the District Committees on the Status of Women (DCSWs).
The KP Commission on Status of Women (KPCSW) was formed in 2009 through an act of law to promote women’s rights and check discrimination against them.
In December 2017, the then chief minister Pervez Khattak announced a plan to take the commission to the district level and implement the KP Commission on Status of Women Act, 2010 about the formation of DCSWs. After the announcement, 11 DCSWs were formed in various districts of the province.
Civil society members, women, lawyers, doctors, journalists and representatives of religious minorities are part of the district committees.
Interestingly, without any notification by the government, the then KPCSW chairperson Neelam Toru used DCSWs and assigned them duties.
Though these panels were considered to be an effective means to check gender-based violence and address other women’s issues, both the past and present governments failed to notify them much to the disappointment of the women rights activists.
The commission, without the DCSWs, is incomplete and faces criticism.
The DCSWs can play a key role in discouraging honour killings, domestic violence against women, forced marriages of minor girls and other women related issues.
Some of the district social welfare officers have forwarded the names of chairpersons and members of the committee for DCSWs to the KPCSW Secretariat but received no response to date.
An official of the Social Welfare Department told The News that furniture had been delivered to the Social Welfare Department across the province for the offices of the District Committees on the Status of Women but ironically those bodies hadn’t been formed so far.
Taimur Kamal, a rights activists, hoped the proposed panels of DCSWs would help address the women’s complaints about inheritance, domestic violence and workplace harassment, besides ensuring psychological and social support.
He said the DCSWs were bound by the law to refer the women’s cases to the relevant departments and authorities for prompt action.
The rights activist believed that if the KPCSW became functional at the district level, the incidents of gender-based violence, honour killings and issues of inheritance and marriage dissolution would decline drastically.
Sources said that some officials in the Social Welfare Department and KPCSW were trying to replace some chairpersons of the DCSWs with own favourites as they would be notified in grade-17 and would get benefits as government servants.
In the proposed law for KP Domestic Violence against Women, a key role was given to the chairpersons of the DCSWs.
Interestingly some of the lawmakers recently replaced them with the district social welfare officers in the proposed amendments to the draft law to be tabled in KP Assembly for approval.