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Women’s body formed to deal with Karo-kari

KARACHI – Fifteen women members of the Punjab Assembly formed a Women’s Caucus to deal with issues pertaining to women with special reference to outdated and inhuman laws such as winy, Karo-Kari, and Swarah and other related issues.

The committee comprises four women MPAs from the PML (Q), two from the MMA, one from the PML (Jinnah), four from the PPPP, and four from the PML (N).

The committee was established four months back and had meetings consecutively in the last week of every month.

The purpose of the committee is to resolve the day-to-day issues relating to women.

The committee successfully enacted the law of winy in the Punjab Assembly, a centuries-old tradition of the Province wherein the hand of a young girl, even if she is a minor, is given in marriage to a man from among the aggrieved party, as compensation and a sign of repentance.

Despite opposition from many members of the House, Tahira Muneer, MMA MPA, succeeded in having the bill piloted successfully through the House.

Besides these traditional laws, the committee will also tackle the issues of family laws under which a woman is deprived of her basic rights which she actually is entitled to under Islamic Laws and the law of the land equally, such as cases pertaining to property, divorce, laws of inheritance, custody of children, and Hudood laws.

The 15-member committee is trying to motivate other women MPAs of the Punjab Assembly to initiate a dialogue and have women’s issues resolved amicably, irrespective of party, or ideological affiliations.

Women’s issues supersede ideological, party or religious allegiances. All that is essential is that these issues should be dealt with, wholly and solely, in the light of Islamic laws. Unfortunately, many of the women MPAs who agreed on the agenda of the committee were being discouraged by their male colleagues from making endeavours in this regard, fearing that congregating of the womenfolk of differing political hues might weaken the political basis of the parties, sources confided to The News.

A fifteen-member women’s committee is holding a dialogue with 50 other women MPAs since the last four months and most of the women MPAs are in favour of drafting laws for affording relief to the women but the party leaderships have strong reservations, reservations based on political expediency.

In line with a male-dominated society, the insider said, none of the political parties, despite their staunch advocacy of women’s rights and Human Rights, in actual practice, defy the very principles incorporated in these institutions.

The committee would also seek speedy justice in divorce cases.

In many cases, women MPAs said, a woman was divorced through the court but had to wait until the court judgment, which lingered on for years. In such cases a man is free to go in for the second marriage while a woman has to wait for the second marriage. Sometimes women have to wait for a lifetime, as there is a lack of communication and education.

Such cases, said the women MPAs, should be decided within period of six months.

However, it was also said that this committee would also interact with the women members of other provincial assemblies to evolve consensus with regard to the women and issues confronted by them.

In this connection a dialogue committee will be formed which will determine the viewpoints of different women MPAs from different political parties. After reaching a consensus opinion the women MPAs of all the four provinces will communicate the problems to the National Assembly women legislators to elicit their support for the resolution of the basic rights and issues of the women.

An awareness programme for the women has also been chalked out at the community level, which would give them information about their rights. Even the educated women in our country are ignorant of the laws and deprived of their legal rights, even those enjoined by Islam.

Taking advantage of the 33 percent participation in the parliament, women legislators must realise the issues and have them resolved on the floor of House, said the woman MPA.

Women she said should not be treated as second grade citizens, and they must fight for their genuine rights and get force the menfolk to realise that they are not superior to their opposite numbers just because of muscular strength. This has to be driven home loud and clear to the masses.

Source: The News

Date:10/18/2004

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