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Legislation to protect women

VIOLENCE against women is a most urgent item of concern on the agenda of our times. One out of three women suffers some form of violence in the world. There are many definitions of domestic violence used across the department of human services.

All include forms of physical injury/abuse, sexual abuse, intimidation, verbal abuse and emotional abuse or such threats.

Apart from physical violence, women are subjected to mental, emotional and physiological (forced donation of organ such as kidney etc) violence closely linked to the attitudes of aggression against women. Domestic violence has many forms, i.e. wife-beating, torture, marital rape, custodial violence, honour killings, burning of women, acid throwing, mutilation, incest, gang-rape, stripping of women in the public, trafficking and forced prostitution and sexual harassment in the street and at workplace, etc. In a family it is the mail members, such as husband, father, brother, male-in-laws and cousins, who are involved in crimes against their women. It has been observed that some time women members of a family aid the men in their dirty work. In Pakistan women are in a terrific situation. In three months, from Jan 1 to March 31, some 328 incidents of domestic violence against women have taken place. There is a great need to legislate laws and implement them to protect the honour of our women and provide them safety and liberty.

As a member of the Sindh Assembly, I have drafted a proposed bill titled ‘Domestic Violence against Women and Children Bill 2008’, which will soon be presented in the assembly.

We hope to ensure zero tolerance for violence against women in both rural and urban areas. Our goal is to reach out to women victims and provide them relief, justice and honour so that they can live as respected citizens of Pakistan.

We feel that without literacy there is little hope that we can help our women. So there must be an opportunity for all our women to get education. According to the latest statistics, female literacy in Pakistan stands at 28 per cent, way below the Third World average of 66 per cent. Without literacy what hope have our women of pulling themselves out of the abyss, the misinterpretation of religion, and outdated tribal and feudal customs and traditions. We recommend:

– All discriminatory and biased laws against women should be repealed.

– Strong laws should be made to protect women from all kinds of violence, including domestic violence.

– Police and judiciary should be sensitised.

– Print and electronic media should project a positive image of women.

– Political representation of women should be strengthened at all levels, local, provincial and national and they should be given real powers.

– Jirgas should be banned and those who violate should be punished. The violators should be barred from holding any public office. Courts should be provided all required facilities for rapid and less expensive justice.

– Religious scholars and political leaders should also play an active role to eliminate violence against women.

– State should take appropriate measures to change the social and cultural patterns with a desire to eliminate the prejudices, customs and practices which are based on the idea of inferiority or the superiority of the either sex.

– Services of police officers involved in not registering FIR against honour crimes should be terminated.

– Committees (with women’s representation) at village level should be established to look into violent incidents against women.

– Shelter homes for victims at district level should be established.

– Men should be made aware of negative impacts of violence against women, including children.

– Topics such as bad impacts of violence should be accommodated in curriculum.

– Women should be made economically self-sufficient.
Source: Dawn