KARACHI: In a society where women’s rights are often trampled by the brute force of their male counterparts, it is facilities such as the Darul Aman that often prove to be the only beacon of hope for the oppressed.
It is quite surprising, therefore, that the Darul Amans across Sindh were largely ignored up until very recently, when their cause was highlighted by civil society organisations, such as Shirkat Gah — Women’s Resource Centre, Rozan, Dastak and the provincial minister for social welfare and women development, Rubina Qaimkhani. It is through the consolidated efforts of these individuals that a notification for the SOPs to run Darul Amans across the province was issued by the Sindh government on Wednesday.
Earlier, a woman could only enter through the gates of a Darul Aman after she had received approval from the incumbent courts. This law has been changed in the new SOPs, which allows any woman to seek refuge in the centre regardless of her circumstances. “Providing shelter, security, legal aid and financial assistance to the oppressed is the government’s responsibility and the drafting of the SOPs for Darul Amans is the first major step in this direction,” remarked Qaimkhani. She was speaking at the launch ceremony of the SOPs on Wednesday.
Pakistan Muslim League — Functional MPA Mehtab Akbar Rashidi said that real improvement will be seen when the gates of Darul Aman would be kept open for a woman round-the-clock, especially at night when she has nowhere to go. “The mindset has to be changed, especially of the officials of Darul Aman,” said Rashidi. Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Irum Azeem Farooq hoped that conditions of the Darul Amans, generally considered a jail, would get better once the SOPs are implemented.
Former chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women, Anis Haroon, said that the women living in Darul Amans must be granted their fundamental rights. Shirkat Gah’s Fauzia Viqar said a woman can now get admission in a Darul Aman by court orders, recommendation of an NGO or even by her own wish.