ISLAMABAD – Many policy recommendations and advisory reports by the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) have been laying pending for approval by the board members because of the commission’s short strength.
“Presently the commission has only a chairperson and two members. The board cannot function without the participation of at least 10 members. Consequently, all our recommendations are getting stale for want of strength,” NCSW Chairperson Justice (r) Majida Rizvi said in a press briefing.
She accused the government of undue procrastination in the appointment of new members to the commission. “The recommendations on qisas and diyat, draft legislation for the protection of home-based women workers (maids) and suggestions on inheritance for women are the main issues which cannot be endorsed without mandatory strength,” she said.
Seats on the board have been lying vacant since August 31, 2003. “We have been corresponding with the government for the last year, but no positive signs have been received from them,” she said.
About the Hudood laws, Ms Rizvi said the commission had already demanded the complete repeal of this law. The Hudood laws were promulgated through ordinances and were never brought before parliament, which was one of the main drawbacks of these laws, Justice Rizvi said.
She said NCSW had created awareness about the Hudood laws, which was why everyone was talking about their repeal or amendment. “How ironic is it that a rape victim is asked to produce four eye-witnesses to the offence or she herself is sentenced to punishment for adultery,” she said. She also deplored the non-implementation of a government requirement under which 5 percent of the seats were reserved for women in public sector departments.
“At present, there is only a 3.5 percent representation of women on reserved seats in the Sindh government and 2 percent in the North West Frontier Province. The Punjab and Balochistan governments have absolutely neglected this federal government directive,” she said.
She said NCSW is mandated to review all government policies from the perspective of women’s rights, to review all discriminatory laws and legislation and to conduct research on women’s issues.
To strengthen the judicial system, Ms Rizvi suggested a sensitisation of the judiciary, law enforcing agencies and masses through regular workshops and other advocacy measures, the training of the judiciary on Sharia laws and strict compliance with existing laws.
She also suggested the prohibition of the jirga (tribal jury) system and the award of severe punishment for any violations of this prohibition. She stressed the need for adequate staff and an independent secretariat to smoothly run the affairs of the commission.
Source: Daily Times