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Need stressed for women`s economic empowerment

KARACHI: Speakers at a seminar stressed the need for economic empowerment of women and female literacy so they could get financial independence, be able to raise their voice and struggle for their rights.

These views were expressed at the launching of two reports, `Socioeconomic cost of violence against women` and `Gender dimensions of development induced displacement and resettlement`, prepared by the Social Policy and Development Centre at a programme sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pakistan.

Presenting the data regarding violence against women, SPDC chief Dr Khalida Ghaus said that 82 per cent of the victims were aged between 19 and 49 years, while 38 per cent of the victims were illiterates with 30 per cent others having up to primary level education and only 4 per cent of the victim were postgraduates.

She said that 64 per cent of the victims were poor and another 32 per cent belonged to lower middle class background, while only 2 per cent of the victims were rich.

She said that in 55 per cent of the cases perpetrators were the husbands and in 22 per cent cases they were in-laws, while in 4 per cent cases the perpetrators were parents and 1 per cent were brother.

She said that 42 per cent of the victims were married while 30 per cent were separated.

She said that per unit cost the victims paid on medical services was over Rs10,000, if she went to police then she had to spend an additional over Rs36,000 and if she moved the judiciary then she had to spend another over Rs50,000.

She said that 46 per cent of the victims were economically not active while another 24 per cent had unskilled occupations.

She said that 40 per cent of the victims demanded social security, while 22 per cent wanted employment opportunities, 18 per cent called for legal help and speedy justice and 15 per cent wanted accommodation.

In his presentation regarding gender dimensions of development induced displacement and resettlement (case study Lyari Expressway), Nadeem Ahmed said that no consultation had been done with the people who had been displaced and relocated, and issues related to human rights and environment had not been properly addressed during the planning and then in the implementation of the project.

He said while the people in general had suffered in the field of education, employment opportunities, etc, women had suffered relatively more than men.

He said that people had more or better civic amenities and facilities like water, gas, doctor, transport, etc, when they lived along the Lyari River than they have in their present location.

Former chief of the National Commission on the Status of Women Justice retired Justice Majida Rizvi said that women were the marginalised section of the society and a lot of efforts had to be made and a long struggle had to be waged till the women got their rights.

She said that there were many women-friendly laws but their proper implementation was required.

She said that discrimination started right from the birth when the boy was given preference over the girl child in every field including education, health and even food.

She stressed the need for changing the mindset of the society and said that the justice system was expensive and time consuming and the need was to reform it to make it less expensive and fast.

Shafeeq Paracha, Masooma Hassan, Salma Murad, Zahid Farooq, Tariq Aziz and others participated in the question-answer session at the programme conducted by Rabia Sidat.