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Laws for protection of women demanded

LAHORE: There is a dire need to enact and properly enforce laws for the protection of women and other oppressed classes of the society but the misuse of such measures, clash with religious teachings and unnecessary western influence should be avoided.

This was stressed by speakers at a seminar on ‘Protection of Domestic Violence Bill and Our Responsibilities’ under the aegis of Mir Khalil-ur-Rehman Memorial Society (Jang Group of Newspapers) at a local hotel here Sunday.

Senator S M Zafar, presiding over the proceedings, said the protection of domestic violence bill was in line with the teachings of Quran and Sunnah and welcomed its introduction as being the need of the time. He said this should be made part of the legislative process after making necessary modifications.

While calling for the contribution of civil society, he said this would enable the people to run their affairs themselves. In Quran, he said there were repeated instructions given to men about treating the women in a humble manner but the emphasis had not been so much upon women.

This, he said, meant that the men needed to curb their aggression more than the women who were polite and modest by nature. “If any law or institution can help implement religious teachings then such measures should be encouraged”, he said while adding the reason behind all the Islamic teachings was social welfare.

He said only those men should fear the implementation of the proposed bill who were not acting upon the teachings of Quran and Sunnah, otherwise, they were under no threat if they were treating their women justly. He said that all those actions were necessary to be legislated that could improve the condition of masses and were not confronting the religious teachings.

When Islam faced a period of turmoil, a new philosophy emerged that if the implementation of teachings was not reforming society then an effort should be made for their improvement. “Islam also stressed the need for progressive thinking process”, he said while adding the religion had given the women a very high pedestal.

This recognition of women should be reflective in the society and it was not enough to leave it as it is or to say that God would give punishment for it, he said while adding that Islam was a complete code of life. This religion was not secular or philosophical and had the peace of this world and the eternal one in it, he added.

The majority of women in the country were leading their lives in harassment of the domestic violence, he said while emphasising that no ‘imported’ ideology was needed in the country. “We are not inferior to anyone and neither do we need to implement any western agenda”, he stated.

He urged all sections of the society not to shy away from acquiring new knowledge and technologies for awareness and advocated for restoration of lost legacy. He said the bill would not only benefit women but would provide relief to all oppressed people and the institutions should be created for its effective implementation.

Punjab Education Minister and guest of honour Mian Imran Masood said the violence against woman started right from her birth and continued during her education, marriage-making and the entire life after marriage. There were many forms of violence, he said and maintained that it was prevalent in politics and other walks of life as well both in east and west. The move to present the said bill in the parliament was a good move, he appreciated while adding that it would become a legislation after being recommended from the standing committee.

He said it was not yet known whether the bill would induce majority vote or not but the causes of violence should be focused upon. He said poverty and illiteracy amongst women and were the major factors behind violence on women and the bill should aim at making the women aware about their rights.

“No law can be termed 100 per cent right but improvement can be made gradually after implementing it on ground”, he stated while urging that the starting point has to come from somewhere. The condition of women should be made better-off, he stated and added that this did not mean any so-called freedom or westernisation.

He said the women in rural areas did a lot of work for their families but were still living in a rotten state. The concept should be carried forward in a careful manner to provide justice and protection to women, otherwise, the welfare state should be put in place to provide relief to all concerned.

Many of the cases of domestic violence did not get reported in absence of any help, he regretted and said such victims return to their homes to give in to oppression. There was urgent need to make laws for curbing such practice that could raise the voice of victims besides providing them protection, he suggested.

The government, he said, was determined to support the women and their empowerment. The representation of women in political and decision-making process was a testimony to the fact, he maintained and added that the education department was also making efforts for this purpose.

The education was being made accessible to females, literacy rate was being increased and girls were being provided Rs 200 as stipend in schools, he revealed. The women could play a very positive role for the uplift and character-building of the nation and their talents should be utilised for the betterment of society, he emphasised. The policies should recognise the importance of women, he urged while adding that the vision of present elected government was reflective in the fact that it had inducted four women as ministers in the cabinet for the implementation of their agenda.

Dr Anjum Amjad said she had to face many difficulties and opposition in the making of the bill. “I was asked to choose an easy topic as it would be difficult to get the present topic approved”, she stated. However, it would at least raise awareness and the people would come to know about the importance of this issue, she said while adding that her conscience was satisfied that she had done the right thing. “It is looking difficult to get the bill passed”, she said while maintaining the assembly with female representation had to recognise domestic violence.

The article 35 of the constitution gave every women and child the right to protection by state, she observed while stating the women without protectors and lack of resources were suffering from violence in their homes. She also briefed about various clauses of the proposed bill. She said the protection officer could be any person of prominence. The role of interim and conciliatory council was elaborated besides the intervention of police and magistrate in case of no other alternative, she pointed out.

Dr Anjum said domestic violence had increased considerably since 1996 while around 85 per cent of the incidents were not reported. “In case of lack of opportunities for women to seek justice, it would not be inappropriate to bring justice to their threshold”, she stressed.

Many check-points had been provided in the bill to guard against the chances of bribery and misuse of authority, she insisted and said the bill was only looking to cater to the problems of dysfunctional homes and would not disturb the happy homes.

Source: The Nation

Date:12/8/2003

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