Bedari organized a dialogue between Parliamentarians (Women caucus) and Civil Society to address the issue of Child Marriage and engaging girls in educational and productive activities. It was conducted with collaboration of Oxfam, Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services and Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. This event was to mark International 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Campaign.
There was participation of Two Groups:
- Members from Civil Society
The focus of the gathering was majorly on the following issues:
- Flaws in Child marriage law and to push women caucus to perform their role in legislative assembly
- Amendment in current Child marriage law for minimum age of girl at the time of marriage from 16 to 18 and present in the assembly through women caucus platform.
- Sexual harassment and harassment at workplace law
- Domestic Violence and its criminalization
- Acid survivors and law related to it
- Online Cyber Crime
Ms. Anbreen Ajaib, Bedari Executive Director, took lead and moved agenda forward. In her opening remarks she said, “The parliament, the senate and the provincial assemblies have taken some effective steps to address Violence against women and girls. As we come closer to the 2018 elections, it is the right time to reflect upon the performance of these assemblies and to develop a future action plan.”
“Domestic violence destroys the lives of victims, breaks families and communities, undermines development and the efforts to build strong democracies and just and peaceful societies,” Mr. Qazilbash, Country Director Oxfam, said.
In his welcome remarks PIPS Executive Director, ZafarUllah Khan, said that while the concept of 16 Days of Activism is great, 365 days should be dedicated to fundamental rights. “The Parliament has blurred party lines to work for women’s rights and in the WPC we see the coming together of women parliamentarians from various parties and this is commendable. So the civil society must work with the members of the caucus to bring in pro-women laws.”
Ms. Anbreen invited the Civil Society members to share their area of expertise and experience.
Dr. Fauzia Saeed talked about the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act. She struggled really hard for the implementation of this law. She stated that media can play its active part in spreading awareness and needs to be vigilant in regard of implementation of harassment law. She requested the Parliamentarians to move forward this law in other provinces as well.
Mr. Saleem Malik talked about Domestic Violence. He narrated that Domestic violence does not lie under Pakistan Penal code so there is a need of separate law to be implemented for Domestic Violence.
Ms. Valerie Khan talked about the importance of law. She stated that law is the very first tool. We need to make laws about necessary issues even though there is less or no implementation. At least law must be there. She also shared that Pakistan is the only country where the number of Acid attack cases has decreased in the past decade due to effective implementation of the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act.
Ms. Fatima Atif talked about the Cyber Crime Law by sharing that Civil Society involvement in Cyber Crime law is very low. We need to ensure that everybody knows about it so they can protect themselves. Everyone should take security measure to make themselves secure while using social media and technology.
Then, Ms. Anbreen invited Parliamentarians to share their efforts and points of views in regard to Ending Violence Against Women and Girls:
Senator Seher Kamran started with a thank you note and shared her struggle. She said that there was big contribution of Civil Society to ensure that the law of Child Marriage is passed. Civil Society’s support is big strength for us. She stated that Awareness is must for Child Marriage restraint act. Our society must accept that early marriage creates unprotected environment for girls and women. It is important for the development of our country to combat child marriage.
Tahira Aurangzeb stated that human resource is the most important force for a country we need to shift our focus on human resource as they are our strength, in those human resources half of them are women. Women constitute such a huge number of human resource, we need to stop violence against them and provide them with equal opportunities.
Rana Ansar MPA from Sindh thanked Bedari and everyone. She started by saying that I am feeling happy that Bedari awakens us all to work for women. She also shared that in Sindh, Domestic Violence bill is still pending. We all need to move this agenda as resolution in every assembly to end Violence against women and girls.
Suriya Asghar talked about Women laws. She said that in our religion women enjoy equal rights. In this society where we live we need to push everyone for working and enhancement of women rights. There is seen betterment in Acid Survivor law and different bills with small amendments but we need to do more and a lot.
Dina Naz MPA from KPK started with Thank you note and shared that first time in the history of KPK parliament strong women came on the front side for the working of women rights. We also created a Women caucus in which we are working for women and girls. Education and media play a vital role. Every good comes with education. We need to educate our people about the issues.
Speaker Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani, Baluchistan Assembly started off with the thank you note and shared her success story. She said that Baluchistan is a changed province now because of education. Education is the only way to change. Violence against women occurs all over the world, we just need to change our thinking which is possible only because of education. She further shared different laws passed in the Baluchistan assembly like Breast feeding law, Mother Language, Anti-Sexual harassment law, Child protection law and a bill is also passed about the gap of having next child to be 2 years at least. She ended her speech by saying, “Do not respect women only because of the relation they hold with you of a mother, sister, wife or daughter. Respect her for she is a WOMAN!”
Suggestions: A women forum must be made where all active women can meet regularly and share their thoughts and important points with each other. Awareness of our society regarding certain women related issues is required at gross root level. A helpline should be established for legal advice and any general support like health & education issues. Proper monitoring of data regarding women’s’ issues and implementation of laws must be ensured. This is a struggle of every single member of the society to bring betterment in our society. We all need to come closer and raise our voice against violence against the women.
Anbreen Ajiab thanked all the participants, civil society and parliamentarians for coming and making our event successful.
The press release to this event could be found here: