A number of civil society and women rights activists, government officials and media personnel met Qazi Shahid Pervez, the provincial home secretary, and the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee chief Zubair Habib separately to discuss upgrading the forensics laboratory with DNA testing facilities.
Called the Provincial Steering Forum (PSF), the delegation included Shehla Qureshi, the city division’s SP, Ellahi Bakhsh Baloch and Raheema Panhwar from the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), civil society activists Lala Hassan and Saleem Abbasi, Zia Ur Rehman, a journalist, and DSP Shehla Ghani.
The delegation met Pervez at his office on Thursday and discussed the various aspects of handling gender-based violence cases, the appropriate time to report incidents, the procedure for medical treatment, timely evidence gathering and referrals to shelters.
SPO’s Panhwar said there were several instances where women had been denied justice due to a lack of evidence. “The importance of DNA evidence in cases of violence against women cannot be overstated,” she said.
Qureshi, a female officer representing the police department in the PSF, said women facilitation centres should be established at police stations or at SSPs’ offices, because survivors of gender-based violence were hesitant to relive their experiences in the presence of insensitive male law enforcement officers. “Female victims need access to women protection centres at police stations where they can register their cases and also temporarily take shelter there,” she suggested.
Home Secretary Pervez said DNA tests would not only help survivors of gender-based violence, but also prove invaluable in the identification of anonymous dead bodies. He agreed that an improved mechanism for sample collection and DNA preservation was direly needed.
He added that sufficient funds had been allocated to establish the forensics lab, and consultation about its management and data bank was underway between the CPLC and the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences.
Pervez advised the delegation to identify areas where the home and women development departments could collaborate to combat violence against women. The secretary also said he would write a sensitisation letter to police departments to set up women facilitation desks in at least 25 police stations.
In a separate meeting with CPLC chief Habib, the delegation members discussed the establishment of a forensics lab and the role of DNA tests in cases of gender-based violence.