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Senate panel for law to ensure women’s votes casting

ISLAMABAD (May 21 2008): The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights Tuesday directed the Election Commission (EC) to make a new law to ensure that women caste votes in the future. The directive came in the backdrop of a European Union Election Observers Mission report about February 18 polls in which it found that women were prevented from voting in many areas across the country.

Committee Chairman Senator S.M Zafar asked authorities of the Election Commission, Ministry of Women Development and Ministry of Human Rights to develop liaison and make an effective law.

He expressed concerns that there were agreements in tribal areas, NWFP and a few rural areas of Punjab and Sindh by local leaders, sometimes with the participation of political parties and candidates to prohibit women from voting.

Various proposals were discussed in the meeting to resolve the issue, including one floated by Senator Khalid Ranjha, who proposed for examining Australian electoral system where voting is mandatory for everybody.

S.M Zafar opined that the law ministry should work out compulsory voting system to address the serious issue. In this regard, he suggested imposing penalty by not allowing a woman to go for shopping at utility store if she does not cast vote.

The Election Commission officials told the Senate panel that there was no complaint registered with the Commission in 2008 elections whether women were not allowed to cast their votes.

Tahira Abdullah, representative of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, informed the meeting that holding computerised national identity card was also a serious issue.

She said women in some areas don’t agree to have computerised national identity card only due to photographs. “We should have to reconsider the decision,” she suggested.

WOMEN HOSTELS: Meanwhile, a standing committee on women development met with Tahira Latif in the chair.

The committee expressed concern over the management of official women hostels all over the country and strongly recommended that these facilities be restricted to female government employees only.

Describing the amount of scholarship being provided to the children/ward of government servants by the Establishment Division through its Staff Welfare Organisation (SWO) as meager, it recommended substantial increase in these scholarships and provision of necessary funds with enhanced allocation in this head.
Source: Business Recorder