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PPF Workshop on Monitoring Press Freedom, Karachi

Date: March 14, 2005
Location: Karachi

The Pakistan Press Foundation conducted a three-day workshop on Media and Domestic Violence. 25 journalists from six districts of Sindh participated, with objectives to understand the role of the media in creating awareness on domestic violence and to strengthen participants’ skills in feature writing.

This training programme was held from March 14 to16, 2005 at PPF-Vicky Zeitlin Media Library, Karachi The training session began with the introduction of Media And Domestic Violence Project and the rationale of the workshop.

Samina Ishaque, in her presentation defined women’s rights guaranteed by the UN charter of Human Rights (1948) and the CEDAW (1981) gave details on domestic violence situation in Pakistan. The session involved the participants’ input and discussion.

Later, the seminar on Women’s Rights was held, which was addressed by Syed Iqbal Haider, Former Federal Law and Human Rights Minister and Council Member Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Uzma Noorani, Human Rights Activist and HRCP’s Council Member and Beena Sarwar, Editor Editorial Section of The News.

The speakers termed feudal thinking and class-based system responsible for human rights violations, especially against women, and called for providing all basic rights to women for country’s prosperity and development.

Speaking on the occasion, Syed Iqbal Haider said human rights especially of women should be ensured for growth and success of the country. “The roots of violence against women actually lies in feudalism which according to the latest thinking is considering oneself above the law.” “Providing rights to women not only safeguards men’s rights but also ensures rights of the society and could lead us towards moral and economic development. We must change society’s mindset of subduing women”, he observed.

Citing instances of gender discrimination in the country, he said the so-called Hudood Ordinance had nothing to do with Hud (Quranic/Divine laws). It is misinterpretation of Quranic verses as “Ijtehad” had been abandoned among the Muslims, he added. Similarly, the bill recently passed on honour killing has lacunas and does not ensure punishment to the accused and government must amend it according to the bill prepared jointly by untiring efforts of various NGOs, he maintained.

Iqbal Hyder also demanded utilization millions of rupees in “Women in Distress Fund”, established by previous government, for welfare of women, suggesting that workingwomen hostels could be set up from the said funds.

Speaking on the occasion, Human Rights Activist and HRCP’s Council Member Uzma Noorani said about 80% of women were reportedly affected with domestic violence in the male dominated country. She stressed the need for constituting short-term and long-term policies for coping with violence against women and giving them their rights, saying gender inequality is the main reason for and social attitudes must be changed in this regard. Ms. Noorani proposed that a law should be introduced on domestic violence, shelter be provided for women and law enforcement agencies, judges and lawyers be sensitized on gender issues. She urged media for advocacy campaign for women by highlighting success stories of women and sensitizing the society through their writing.

She said violence against women was crime against whole society; she informed participants that such abuses existed at all classes of the society and irrespective of nation. She called for addressing the issue pertaining to abuses on women at all platforms, providing legal shelter and changing people’s attitudes towards gender inequality.

Terming Hudood Law as “Black Law” and discrinatory, she demanded repealing of the said law, saying such laws and recently honour-killing bill was not acceptable and they should be amended.

Beena Sarwar, Editor Editorial Section of The News, provided practical tips on reporting and writing about domestic violence.The seminar was followed by a discussion on the subject to clarify various aspects of the issue.

Aimed at completing a publishable feature before the end of the workshop, the participants were to select three topics, by brainstorming for themselves and writing down initial and then main points and construct a feature outline. The topics had to meet the checklist as a point of reference that it had to deal with some valid aspect of domestic violence. The topic had to be timely, local, specific, focused; pegged to news events and of public interest.

The facilitator, Mr Fazal Qureshi monitored organizing material and provided tips on outlines and structure A seminar on domestic violence was held, followed by Q/A session with the experts to get additional information and further refine the features The speakers at the workshop were: Incharge Burns Ward, Civil Hospital Karachi, Prof. Dr. Shaista Effendi; Gender Studies Consultant and Vice President Irteqa Institute of Social Sciences, Dr. Tahira S. Khan and Chairperson Depilex Smile Again Rehabilitation Centre for Burns Victim, Ms. Musarrat Misbah

The Speakers called for promulgation of laws for prevention of domestic violence, introduction of licensing system for acid sale and need for creating awareness among public and encouraging burnt victims to make them effective part of the society. Speaking on the occasion, Incharge Burns Ward, Civil Hospital Karachi Prof. Dr. Shaista Effendi said severe psychological problems and extreme desperation were behind the incidents of acid throwing and burning and offenders often give such indications prior to the offense. So with open eyes, it is easier to eradicate the crime before it is committed.

She said illiteracy and lack of awareness are basic reasons behind such abuses. “Absolute prevention of such violence is possible as our society is community based and we can curb occurrence of such misfortunes by discussing problems within the family”, she said. Cr
iticizing careless reporting by journalists, she urged media persons to show spirit of responsible journalism while covering such incidents because victims of burnt and acid-throwing cases had to be carefully treated.

However, Dr. Shaista called for society to encourage the victims to rehabilitate them so that they could spend normal life. She informed that 98% of the total burning cases reported in Civil Hospital Karachi were accidental and 1% acid-throwing and 1% related to homicidal attempts while very little or no cases of dowry disputes was reported.

She highlighted that Quranic teachings were the best source of refraining violence against women besides positive aspects of our culture and norm. Gender Studies Consultant and Vice President Irteqa Institute of Social Sciences Dr. Tahira S. Khan said bifurcation of the society between men and women was the basic reason of domestic violence on women.She said the attitude of society towards gender discrimination was responsible for burning and acid-throwing incidents while such abuses was a very little part of the overall violence committed against women.

“Most of the domestic violence, physical or psychological, are hidden and victims cannot plea before anybody. The need is drafting appropriate legislation in this regard like such made in Malaysia, the first Muslim country where Domestic Violence Act, DVA was passed”, she proposed. Pakistan was far away from constitution of domestic violence law, which should be made according to our society’s framework.

Chairperson Depilex Smile Again Rehabilitation Centre for Burns Victim Ms. Musarrat Misbah said most of the acid throwing and burning incidents committed against women are gender-based and intentional while accidental or rivalry-based in case of men. She said such incidents were committed mostly in rural areas but increasing number of cases are being reported in urban areas during recent years while Punjab had most cases of such abuses and Balochistan has least number of reported violence. Some reasons of such incidents are disputes pertaining to marriage, bearing more girls, witness against rivals and dowry in which victims’ lips, ears, noses, eyes, face and other sensitive parts are disfigured by acid-throwing and burning, she added.

Referring facts of the abuses, she told participants that 73% cases committed with female belonged to age group of 21 which indicated that this offense was committed mostly against young women.
Terming domestic violence as “heinous crime”, she demanded draft of legislation and its implementation and introduction of licensing system for acid sale in the market. She also stressed the need of constituting rehabilitation institutions for burnt victims and highlighting these issues through media. Social, cultural and religious factors are constraints in such legislation, she said Later, the participants wrote detailed outlines of their features; the first drafts of their features. The facilitators gave feedback.

On day three, the participants were divided into 3 groups; each group was assigned a facilitator.
Each participant shared her/his outlines and got feedback on it, which was based on the given checklist

Is the topic comprehensive?
Does it give facts and figures?
Is it interesting?
Does it give experts’ opinion?
Is the topic specific and focused, not too generalized an issue?
Is the topic local?
Is it timely?
Is it pegged to news events?
Is the topic of public interest?
Is the length proper?

Participants noted down the feedback they received.

The participants then completed the feature articles.

Later the participants filled out the evaluation forms.

In the closing ceremony, the chief guest, Sindh Minister for Women’s Development Dr Saeeda Malik addressed the participants. She called for launching a collective social movement in addition to holding seminars, workshops, promulgation of laws and governments efforts for elimination of gender discrimination and violence against women.

“Promulgation of laws and bills by the assemblies, seminars, workshops and speeches by the ministers will do little to eliminate gender discrimination from the society. What we need is a collective social movement against these menaces”.

She cited poverty, low literacy rate and other socio-economic factors responsible for growing incidents of domestic violence, prevailing gender discrimination and women rights abuses and stressed for preparation of “an army of women” equipped with techniques and knowledge to help oppressed women in rural areas of Sindh.

Lauding the efforts of PPF in creating awareness among rural population of Sindh through its workshops for local correspondents, she said awareness was the key to solution of gender discrimination in local society and journalists had to play their crucial role in this regard.

Giving details of steps taken by her ministry for prevention of violence against women, she said six committees were formed to deal with issues facing women besides establishment of a women complaint cell at the women police station in Karachi, where women ccan easily lodge their complaints regarding violence against them.

Dr. Saeeda Malik felt that several laws including Hudood Ordinance needed amendments, and called for changing society’s mind set to end discrimination against women. “Basically, it is poverty and illiteracy due to which parents, especially mothers want male child instead of a female child in their families”. According to her, parents should not hesitate while sending their daughters at co-education institutes as studying along with male students gives them immense confidence and courage to face the society.

The concluding session of workshop was followed by a question-answer during which Sindh women development minister answered to the queries raised by participants regarding government steps for women development and gender equality.


List of Participants
Miss. Hina Mahgul
The Nation
Miss. Shehla Nawaz
Freelance writer
Pakistan Press Foundation
Miss. Ambreen Binish
Freelance writer
Pakistan Press Foundation
Miss. Zufishan Kiran
Editor Economic Outlook
Pakistan Press Foundation
Miss. Sarwat Hasnain AAmir
Radio Presenter
FM100 Pakistan
Miss. Mehtab Baloch
Miss. Musawir Shahid
Pakistan Press Foundation
Miss. Mahrukh Mir
Editor PPF Urdu Feature Service
Pakistan Press Foundation
Miss. Fatima Faiz
Program Coordinator
Pakistan Press Foundation
Miss. Quratulain Zaidi
Program Coordinator
Pakistan Press Foundation
Miss. Nadia Hassan Baloch
The Daily Intekhab
Miss. Nadia Dada
Program Coordinator
Pakistan Press Foundation
Mr. Taheer Ahmed
Reporter English News Desk
Pakistan Press International
Mr. Syed Jaweed shah
District Coordinator
Pakistan Press Foundation
Mr. Jan Odhano
Pakistan Press Foundation
Mr. Abdul Latif
Pakistan Press Foundation
Mr. Muhammad Arsalan yaseen Arain
Pakistan Press Foundation
Mr. Farhan Shahid
Pakistan Press Foundation
Mr. Mumtaz Ali Mangrio
Pakistan Press Foundation