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‘Domestic violence an impediment curbing uplift of women’

Domestic violence is a massive impediment curbing the development of women not only in Pakistan but in whole of the south Asian Region where after every two minutes a woman has to face violent situation in her routine life.

The states in the region have so far not been successful in eliminating the social menace of gender based discriminations and violence.

This was stated by Hina Noureen, President, Baidarie Sialkot, while addressing a seminar conducted in solidarity with “We Can” movement to celebrate the “Universal Day against Violence on Women”.

The day is celebrated to highlight the need for coherent efforts for making the life free of violence and torture for women.

Hina said that the global trend of “Feminisation of Poverty”, and related issues including subservience of the social players to patriarchic structures, rigid orthodox norms and stifling socio-cultural customs and traditions continuously decay the status and role of women (48percent) of the population of 170 million people) in Pakistan.

In unfortunate practical terms, the women in this part of the world are seen as the repository of family honour-although not regarded as honourable in themselves-and any perceived slight to that honour, whether true or not, is considered to be punishable in the most brutal way.

She said that reports by credible human and women rights organisations hint at reported and un-reported cases of thousands of women as victims of rape, incest, forced prostitution, parading undressed, honour killings, mutilations, domestic violence, kitchen-stove accidents, acid throwing, burning, sexual harassment at workplace, forced/exchange/child marriages, trading /trafficking of women and female infanticide etc.

Innumerable women and girls suffer mental and physical violence in silence for years, die violent deaths and get buried in un-marked graves.

Professor Arshid Mehmood Mirza while speaking on this occasion said that gender-based discriminations, rampant domestic violence and ever-impending fear of sexual harassment and assault outdoors as well as indoors leave the society to pay the highest cost in social, cultural and economic terms.

Violence in all of its forms and manifestations casts deep emotional and physical scars on the victims and add trauma to their life.

The woman despite the fact that she is the one who happens to be the unfortunate victim of violence is ruthlessly stigmatised in the society whereas the culprits still remain privileged to enjoy their perfect social status.

Such incidences significantly minimise opportunities for common run of women to fully participate in the process of mainstream development, thereby slowing down overall national growth and progress.

He said that Government of Pakistan has ratified CEDAW, developed policies like NSFFP, NPA, NPDEW, approved GRAP and promulgated Women Protection Bill to improve the lot of Pakistani women but on ground, the current patterns of governance and the practices of service delivery and grievance addressing are multiplying the social exclusions by preventing women from accessing the much needed relief, easy and expedited access to justice and spaces and options for their empowerment through defective and selective implementation of even those few policies and enactments, which may be considered gender-responsive.

Addressing the participants Chaudhry Shabbir-ul-Hassan advocate former General Secretary Sialkot Baron Association said that ironically enough, by and large the governmental agencies have reduced their role to the patronisation of the forces that commit and favour gender-based discriminations, oppression and violence.

Police, if at all, registers a complaint of Violence against Women, often manipulates evidence and use sections of the penal code carrying lower penalties leaving scarce space for the survivors of the violence to get their grievances adequately addressed.

High costs and delays in obtaining justice discourage women survivors of violence from availing legal means to protect their rights.

As a consequence thereof, the women survivors and/or the members of their families very hardly dare to report the incidences of violence to the administrative and judicial structures.

Omar Abdullah Ghumman a local human rights activist said that violence against women in all of its forms and manifestations has become an endemic in Sialkot district as well, undermining women’s confidence, self-esteem and destroying their health.

The growing economic imbalances, poverty, and unemployment, preaching of dogmas enforcing male superiority in the name of the religion, poor level of awareness in women about their rights and non-existence of district level organised efforts for resisting encroachments on women rights have been the major causes of violence against women.

Lack of social support and vigilance systems let such cases either go unnoticed or not to get proper and timely support for corrective actions thus increasing trauma and miseries for the victims.

Saadat Ali Programme Coordinator “We Can” while concluding the debate said that it is obligatory for the policy and decision makers in state and society to hit hard on the roots of this menace in a programmatic, pragmatic, coherent and systematic way by taking pro-active, pre-emptive, supportive and rehabilitative steps.

He avowed on the behalf of the change makers in District Sialkot that “We, the Change Makers of the We Can social movement, commit to foster change within ourselves to End All Violence against women and motivate others to join in this journey toward Equlality, Justice and Peace.”