By: Aliya Mirza
LAHORE: In order to increase the protection of women and involve the Punjab government in this activity, the Aurat Foundation has prepared a draft on the issue and intends to send it to the provincial government for legislation. This was revealed at a consultation meeting arranged by the AF on the topic of “Women Protection Policy and Bill 2012”.
Addressing the event, the speakers said that women in our society are living in distress; they are at the mercy of abusive in-laws and husbands. Dowry deaths, domestic violence and abandonment of wedded women are common. The meeting was conducted at a local hotel.
AF Resident Director Nasreen Zehra said that in order to increase the protection of women and involve government in this activity, the AF has prepared a draft on the protection of women policy with the consultation of an international NGO, Rutgers WPF, which conducted a research in two districts of the Punjab province. She said that the draft would be presented to the Punjab government for legislation. AF is advocating for policy reforms in the area of women rights that are based on providing protection with dignity she further said.
AF Coordinator Mumtaz Mughal reviewed the women protection policy and bill with proposed amendments at the meeting. Further the findings and recommendations were shared with a number Women Parliamentarians, Lawyers and members of civil society organisation by Mumtaz. Rutgers WPF Programme Manager Kanwal Qayyum while presenting her research of two districts of the province, i.e., DG Khan and Muzaffargarh, said that in March 2012, some visible progress in has been done in legal reforms for the protection of women in the province. She said that the unskilled women could get only poorly paid jobs, have no bargaining skill.
Kanwal said that Pakistan Penal Code 1860 which aimed at punishing the perpetrators of crimes against women, including and Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010. However, corrective or remedial justice to rectify the wrong done to a woman victim is absent in our legal system. She said that this state of affairs requires an urgent action on the part of the State to establish a system of rescue, assistance, shelter and rehabilitation for women survivors.
The protection system for women survivors will be established to operate in 36 districts and the protection system may include a round the clock help line with a special toll free telephone, medical help, legal advice, rescue, dealing with missing cases, shelter home, protection from abuse and exploitation, counselling, emotional support, vocational training and rehabilitation. Training for job oriented courses or vocational training should be arranged, Kanwal said.
The district protection system will provide relief to a woman survivor, who is over 16 years of age and is, abused/ survivors abandoned, emergency shelter, Trafficked, Mentally ill, Affected by conflicts/disasters, single women, widows, abandoned Kanwal further said. Advocate Maleeha Zia said that The District Women Protection Committee would be the principal policy-making body and the district Coordination Officer will be the Chairperson of the Committee. She said that the Committee would meet once a quarter and will discuss different issues of protection system, review its work, liaison. Maleeha said that the constitution has given equal right to both men and women and allowed special measures to be taken by the State for women.