By: Shahid Husain
Karachi: A round-table conference over violence against women was organised by Rutgers WPF, in collaboration with HANDS, which was specifically aimed at ascertaining the domestic violence situation throughout the province.
The participants collectively reflected upon the existing difficulties in ensuring active legislative response over the issue of domestic violence. The role of the media was another factor that was stressed, with focus on the need for increased networking between the government functionaries, civil society and the media.
The participants also stressed the need to encourage participation of religious leaders and institutions in discussions pertaining to domestic violence, stating that such a move will create mass awareness and add sustainability to the cause. Representatives of different organisations such as the Aurat Foundation, Agha Khan University (AKU) and Rutgers WPF Pakistan, presented their researches at the meeting, which was also attended by Secretary for Women Development, Noor Muhammad Laghari, and MPA Irum Azeem Farooqi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
The conference is the first of five to be organised at the provincial and federal level, aimed at bringing together international and local NGOs, MPAs, MNAs and other government representatives.
Sharing his opinions over the existing legislation regarding domestic violence, Laghari stated that he will soon be finalising the development and operations of the Commission on the Status of Women and that the commission will be holding its first meeting soon after Eid-ul-Azha. He voiced his support for the conference and promised sound backing by the government over the issue.
The conference brought together a mix of researchers, civil society representatives and government officials in a unified effort to discuss the intricacies of domestic violence in Sindh. Multiple researches were presented by Dr. Rozina Karmaliana and Dr. Tazeen Saeed Ali of the AKU and Kanwal Qayyum of Rutgers WPF.
The event was also attended by Anis Haroon, the ex-chairperson of the National Commission on Status of Women. The current legal perspective on domestic violence was elaborated by Maliha Zia and Shiza Ahmed.