KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was on Wednesday informed that the provincial government was finalising an “effective” law to curb the rampant cases of acid attacks on women.
“Our government is trying to make a law which should not be toothless legislation as has been made by another province. Our law would be aimed at curbing the menace [of acid attack] once and for all,” said Irum Khalid Javed, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Women Development, during the Sindh Assembly’s Question Hour.
She was answering lawmakers’ queries on behalf of CM Murad Ali Shah who holds the portfolio of the department.
Answering a question by Pakistan Muslim League-Functional lawmaker Nusrat Sahar Abbasi, Ms Javed said acid was easily available in the market where anyone could sell or purchase it at will.
“We are making a law — the Sindh Acid Crime Control Bill, 2017 — to prevent this practice [sale and purchase of acid] effectively,” she said, making a horrifying statement that so far the provincial government was unable to regulate it.
She said the Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP) was begun years ago with an objective to create a society where women have equal rights and could progress with men and had equal opportunities so that there might not be any discrimination with anyone on the basis of gender.
She said there were four key areas in the GRAP — political reforms, administrative or institutional reforms, reform in public-sector employment and policy and fiscal reforms.
Ms Javed said the department had taken measures to achieve the objectives of the programme to a certain extent.
“Almost 50 per cent of its objectives [have been] achieved in phases,” she said, adding that her department’s offices had been established at divisional and district levels since 2007-8 in phases.
She said pro-women laws including the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2013 and Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2013 had been passed and their rules of business formulated.
Apart from the Sindh Acid Crime Control Bill, 2017, she said that the provincial administration was preparing for getting the Sindh Dowry Bill, 2017 passed.
Giving details, she said equipment and furniture to all district administrations had been provided for strengthening and supporting all women development projects during 2007-8.
Besides, computers, photostat and fax machines had been provided to all line departments concerned for establishment of gender mainstreaming unit.
Besides, focal persons were nominated in all the line departments; rules of business had been amended and notified as per the gender perspective, she said.
Ms Javed said that a women caucus was established in the Sindh Assembly in 2005-6.
She said some 20pc representatives of women in all parliamentary committees had been ensured, which was being followed in letter and spirit.
She said that the department provided gender trainings to all the line departments in phases; conducted gender training for parliamentarians; facilitated public-sector universities in Sindh for procurement of equipment, furniture and books for libraries in 2007-8; organised seminars, workshops and training programmes at provincial, divisional and district levels on gender issues in phases; and arranged broadcasting programmes related to gender issues in progressive phasing.
Rs97m for women crisis centres
Replying to another question by Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Rana Ansar, Ms Javed said more than Rs97 million had been allocated for women crisis centres in the previous fiscal year.
More than Rs24m had been allocated for each such centre in Karachi, Hyderabad, Benazirabad and Jacobabad, she said.