A large number of people belonging to different walks of life on Saturday participated in a protest against the shocking gang rape committed on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway on September 9. They demanded that Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umar Sheikh be sacked for blaming the victim.
Men, women and children gathered outside the Karachi Press Club for the demonstration that was jointly organised by Women Democratic Front, Women’s Action Forum, Besharam Baaghi Tehreek, Tehrik-e-Niswan, Siaasi Aurtain, Aurat March and Inter-University Feminist Union.
The protesters demanded an end to all violence against women. “We demand swift justice for all the victims of sexual violence, but we oppose capital punishment and violence begetting violence,” said Qurat Mirza, one of the protest organisers. “These knee-jerk reactions only cause derailment from the patriarchal roots of the issue.”
The protesters also released a charter of demands, which calls for increasing government spending on women’s health, education and safety, making all public spaces safe for women and introducing a gender-sensitive curriculum. They demanded the implementation of the legislation relating to criminal offences such as rape and to the protection of transgendered persons.
They called for the criminal justice system to conduct effective and transparent investigations into gender-based crimes and to hold fair and expeditious trials, starting with implementing the relevant pieces of legislation such as the Criminal Law (Amendment) (Offences Relating to Rape) Act and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act.
The protesters demanded banning the two-finger test and providing additional resources and specialised training for first information reporting, medical examination, counselling, investigation and prosecution of sexual violence crimes.
They called for establishing gender-based violence reporting cells at all police stations across Sindh led by women police officers with specialised training, increasing funding for the existing Darul Amans and other shelters, and increasing the number of functional shelters.
The protesters demanded that the quality of crisis and shelter services be improved through adopting policies that are fully consistent with the freedom of movement of the survivors.
Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), National Trade Union Alliance and Shehri Awami Mahaz also held a major joint protest in front of the press club to voice their concerns about the growing incidents of rape, torture and murder of women and girls.
The protesters said that the increasing instances of violence against women, children and transgender persons showed the rising tendencies of violence, intolerance and sexual frustration in society.
They said that the horrific gang rape on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway and the very negative statement of the Lahore CCPO depicts the reactionary thinking that was introduced in our society by the dictator Gen Ziaul Haq.
They also said that today a girl playing in the street, a boy going to the madrasa, female students of schools and colleges, and women at workplaces are not safe from sexual violence. Even the dead bodies of women are not safe from this menace, they lamented.
They claimed that the government is promoting the narrative that the real place of the female members of society is inside their homes. “They are not considered equal citizens. However, even inside the four walls of their homes, women and girls are not safe from violence,” said HBWWF’s Zehra Khan.
“When women demand equal rights, they face opposition on the basis of religion and morality, while their struggle is termed a tool of propaganda of the West.”
Newspaper: The News