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PPF Seminar on Forms of Violence against Women

Date: November 20, 2003
Location: Karachi

The Pakistan Press Foundation organised a seminar for journalists titled All-out efforts Needed to Eliminate Karo-Kari and Other Forms of Violence against Women on November 20, 2003, at its media library in Karachi.

The seminar was arranged to observe the International Day for elimination of Violence Against Women.The speakers were: Ms. Heer Ismail Soho, MPA, who had tabled a resolution against Karo-Kari in last Sindh assembly session, Akhter Baloch, representing Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Ms. Amina Mehwish, Coordinator, War Against Rape (WAR).

The speakers at a seminar on infamous tradition of Karo-Kari held feudal system responsible for this social evil and called for creating a separate Ministry and also called up on the political parties to play their role in eliminating the violence against women.

Ms. Heer Ismail Soho, MPA belonging to MQM, who had tabled a resolution against Karo-Kari in last Sindh assembly session, said that her party is keen to take efforts against honor killings. She said that Governor Sindh, and the leadership of her party is seriously promoting this issue in Sindh Assembly. She admitted that some female members of Sindh Assembly do not oppose honor killings. She was of the view that the accused of Karo-Kari should be treated as murderer and punished under 302 of PPC.

Currently such killers get hardly five years sentence, she told and asserted that they must be sentenced at least for 25 years. Ms. Heer told that the provincial assembly has formed a joint committee of members from opposition and treasury benches to formulate the recommendations on the proposed law against Karo-Kari. She expected that the house would debate the issue when it meets on December 5.
Akhter Baloch, representing Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, suggested that political parties can produce fruitful results if they strive on the issue .

He said that honor killings is the other name of business as the feudal lords earn lot of money through this and holding of Jirga. Ms. Amina Mehwish, Coordinator, War Against Rape (WAR) elaborated that sexual crimes are often committed against the children even below the age of 12 years. The survivors, the term she used for the victims, develop psychological disorders when they do not get support from the society and the parents and relatives. Based on expeience of handling such cases, she told that the survivors recover a lot and fight against the perpetrators when they get moral support from the relatives and the society.

She stressed on imparting training to the Medico Legal Officers on specific lines as according to her they do not show sympathy with the survivors in 99 percent rape cases. Often they opine that the survivor must had consent in the act. Ms. Amina also spoke on domestic violence and stated that 60 per cent of the overall cases of violence could be described as domestic violence. In these cases, the women and children are being targeted just to supress them. She said that WAR provides free medical and legal assistance to the survivors.

She said that society should support the victim family instead of blaming them shameful. She also stressed on establishing centers to keep the survivors of violence.
Earlier, Mrs. Samina Ishaque, Director, PPF, also spoke on the issue and said that International Day of Women falls on November 25, and the Universal Day of Children is being observed today. Since both the segments of society were of prime importance, we should discuss their problems thoroughly and create awareness among the masses.

List of Speakers
Dr. Saeeda Malik
Women Development Government of Sindh
Ms. Heer lsmail Soho
Member Provincial Assembly (MPA)
Sindh Assembly
Ms. Amina Mahvesh
War Against Rape (WAR)
Dr. Farida Ahmad
Former Member
National Commission the Status of Women
Dr. Salima Ahmad
Pakistan Federation of Business and Professional Women
Ms. Uzma Noorani
Council Member
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)