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Provincial bodies to implement harassment law: Malik

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior, Rehman Malik on Sunday said that the government would form committees at provincial level soon to deal with harassment issues and implement the ‘Anti-Sexual Harassment Act’ at gross root level.

Addressing at concluding day of conference on ‘Gender Discrimination in Media and Capacity Building for Female Journalists’ arranged by National Press Club (NPC), he said the committees will comprise of Home Secretaries, members of Women Division and Inspector General Police as well as representation from NPC and female journalists.

The Minister emphasized on incorporating criminal liabilities in the harassment law including three years imprisonment and said that FIR must be registered against the culprit, if there is sufficient evidence and the Ombudsperson recognizes it. A bill will also be moved in the parliament in this regard, he added.

Interior Ministry has already established a Gender Crime Cell where anyone could register complaint from across the country, he said.

The steps are being taken to have representation of women police in all the police stations to handle the cases of females.

While women lock-ups are also being separated, Malik said.

There were one million untraced cell numbers when he took charge of the ministry, 90 percent of which have been resolved, he said while urging the citizens to report if they find any untraced number to control criminal activities.

Rehman Malik also announced cash assistance Rs 100,000 from the government for a blind girl Ammara from Goggi Studios.

He paid tribute to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who initiated steps and policies for the empowering women.

Women are rendering great contributions in diversified fields of life. The contributions of Speaker National Assembly, Dr Fehmida Mirza, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar and Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) are the glowing examples of women empowerment to be followed by the others, he said.

Malik assured the government support to end gender based disparity as saying “women also have to initiate struggle to get their rights”.

Journalists are the important pillars of the society and they must be accountable and honest with their work to bring positive reforms in the country, Malik added.

Chairperson BISP, Farzana Raja, on the occasion, said that Pakistan People’s Party government is successfully carrying forward Benazir Bhutto’s mission of women empowerment and BISP is one of its examples.

She advised the women journalists to stay away from yellow journalism and always prefer national interest over the individual interest.

Farzana Raja said that women are holding reserved seats in National Assembly and the political parties must play their role for encouraging them to contest at general seats.

About BISP, she informed that around four million beneficiaries are getting financial assistance from the programme. While the number will reach upto five to seven million by the end of June.

An amount of Rs 78 billion has been disbursed among the deserving people under the programmes so far, Farzana Raja said.

Senator Nilofer Bukhtiar said that the steps should be taken to empower the ordinary women too who always remain behind the scene.

She said the women journalists were not seen during the flood reporting and they could have been proved far better than men in highlighting the women issues during floods, if given chance.

She offered training for women journalist in disaster reporting by Hilal-e-Ahmar and on harassment at workplaces by her NGO ‘Bardasht’.

Earlier in the conference, prominent journalist, Mazhar Abbas elaborated different aspects of conflict reporting.

MNA Rubina Sadaat Qaim Khani, Chairperson of National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Anis Haroon, President NPC, Afzal Butt, Women Rights Activist, Fauzia Saeed along with number of female journalists from Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan and Hyderabad participated in the conference.

Source: The Nation