Hyderabad: Participants in a dialogue held here on Monday underscored the need for sensitising stakeholders about pro-women laws for their effective implementation in the country. They were of the view that mere statutes would not work unless people, right from members of civil society to law enforcement personnel, were sensitised about these laws.
The dialogue among activists of civil society organisations and legal fraternity focused on the issues of and challenges to the implementation of pro-women laws in Sindh.
It was organised by the Sindh Human Rights Defenders Network (SHRDN) and Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) at a local hotel.
High Court Bar Association (HCBA) president advocate Nisar Durrani observed that women were discriminated against in society which necessitated enactment of the laws.
Now, he added, awareness among stakeholders and implementation of the laws was needed to ensure deterrence.
Discussing the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013, he said that early marriages were leading to various complications. He pointed out that early pregnancies created numerous problems for expecting mothers besides causing chaos in the household concerned.
Advocate Durrani said that implementation of the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act was also supposed to help transform society into a better one and plug the gaps to the maximum possible extent. He invited recommendations in this regard from the audience.
Advocate Ali Palh of the SHRDN said that there were several factors hindering implementation of certain pro-women laws. He said there were instances where points of jurisdiction surfaced and this did not enable magistrates to pass orders in such cases.
In many cases when parents approached magistrates, they were told that the woman had already moved high court for protection, he said.
The lawyer said that in no case, the law against domestic violence was invoked in spite of the fact that the victim women appeared to have been beaten up mercilessly. Suspects were not prosecuted in other cases as well despite registration of complaint against them, he added.
“There is only one such case, in Mithi, in which a magistrate ordered action perhaps for the reason that both sides belonged to minority”.
Kirshan Sharma, a development activist, stressed on transforming society to a pro-women one to see effective implementation of women-related laws. In this society, he noted, women were hardly given any space.
“It has been observed in many cases that legislation is done in order to meet donors’ conditionalities,” he said.
According to Mr Sharma, it was basically “behaviour” that is hindering implementation of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act. Proper orientation in the police, judiciary and society was needed, he added, and called for inclusion of these laws in the syllabi of the police and judiciary.
He agreed with other participants that there were indeed some complications in the rules of this act.
Rahima Panhwar of the SPO said that law against child marriage appeared very simple and as far as the law against domestic violence was concerned, the role of police was important. She said that prosecution should also focus on its work.
Abid Khamisani, a district prosecutor, said that the role of criminologist and psychologist was very important in domestic violence cases. Counselling was also needed to be provided to victims in such issues, pointing out that many such cases involved personal relationship and economic issues of a household which could only be resolved through proper counselling.
Mr Khamisani also emphasised the need for training of women police officers and creating awareness among them about underage marriages and the relevant law.
A senior counsel, Sachal Awan, was of the view that the child marriage law was drafted without any serious debate on the issue. He said the role of judiciary in ensuring the desired results vis-a-vis laws was very important.