By: Shahid Husain
Karachi: Sindh Minister for Women Development Tauqeer Fatima has said in order to further the interest and better protect the rights of women a Sindh Commision on Women is in the offing.
Previously, only a national commission to secure women’s rights existed. She was speaking at an advocacy seminar on the “Contribution to Sindh Domestic Violence Bill”, organised by Aurat Foundation, where she along with Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly Shahla Raza were the chief guests.
Fatima said the slain Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, Benazir Bhutto, had taught them about women’s rights, but there was a certain mindset in bureaucracy as well as legislators that prolonged the passage of domestic violence bill.
In fact, Fatima regretted, there were several bills that were pending besides harassment bill, early marriage bill, bill on women trafficking, bill on acid throwing, child protection bill and home-based workers bill.
Congratulating Aurat Foundation on celberating its silver jubilee, she said whenever there was a democratic era; it was a golden era for women. The minister stressed that she was not saying so as a minister but as a legislator and a woman.
She said Benazir Bhutto had taught them that women were a great treasure. She clarified that the women’s bill was not controversial; instead powerful institutions were trying to obstruct its passage. President Asif Ali Zardari was keen about the passage of the bill, she said, adding that Sindh was far ahead as compared to other provinces in terms of the passage of domestic violence bill and empowerment of the women.
The minister said every police station should have a female police officer and every school and college girl needed to know her rights. “We have solved 20-year-old cases through mediation,” she observed. The deputy speaker said lobbying was needed with men to pass the provincial domestic violence bill into law, adding that standing committee should be encouraged to work for women’s rights.
Raza said they had a meeting with the home secretary who had certain reservations about the bill and then it was moved to the law ministry. She said they had a meeting with the law secretary as well.
Raza said domestic violence bill was so critical that President Zardari had to intervene and instruct for its formulation into a law. She said collective efforts were needed and experts should be included in working groups.
She said she wanted a thorough debate in the assembly for at least three to four days on the bill and would not make it public on the same day. Former Law Minister Iqbal Haider said committees played a very important role. He said “Justice of the Peace” too had an important role and it functioned at district level under the supervision of a deputy commissioner.
He said amendments could be made to the bill after it becomes a law.He said police also needed to be trained due to its anti-women mindset. Thousands of pending cases made it difficult for a woman to seek help from the court of law, he lamented. Earlier, Rubina Brohi of Aurat Foundation said President Zardari himself had given the consent that the bill should be passed but it was still pending for unknown reasons.