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Public solidarity event titled ‘Apno Ki Yaad’ on International Human Rights Day, Islamabad


Public solidarity event titled ‘Apno Ki Yaad’ on International Human Rights Day

During the last few years, many significant laws have been passed by the parliaments in the country, however, these could not be implemented effectively.  Civil society and women’s rights activists expected notable change in the situation of women in Pakistan.  The facts are other way round.  Thousands of women are still tortured or face one or another kind of violence.  These views were expressed by Ms Rabeea Hadi, Director Advocacy, Aurat Foundation, during a public solidarity event titled ‘Apno Ki Yaad’ on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2014.

Giving a situation analysis of violence against in Pakistan she said that during the nine month period i.e. January – September 2014, 1543 cases of kidnapping / abducting women were reported i.e. 4 women per day; 1256 women were murdered i.e. 3 women per day; 1149 women were raped and gang-raped i.e. 3 women per day which shows 17% increase compared to last year; 708 women committed suicide at the rate of 2 women per day; 604 women were killed in the name of ‘honour’ i.e. 2 women per day; and 392 cases of domestic violence were reported during the period i.e. 1 case per day. 

Similarly, despite the passage of The Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Act, 2011(the laws which deals with the anti-women customary practices like wanni, swara etc), forced marriages and child marriages still being made e.g. during the nine month period 22 cases of forced marriages and 7 cases of child marriage were reported.  Thus, a total of 7450 of violence against women were reported during the nine months i.e. January to September, 2014, sufficient to realize the increase in violence against women in Pakistan.

Ms Asyia Nasir, Member National Assembly, JUI-F, during her address to the public rally, condemned the forced conversions of minority women and girls and their forced marriage to Muslims.  She said that ‘women’s rights’ shall be valued, respected and implemented as ‘human rights’. In order to end domestic violence from each and every home, we need an effective legislation on domestic violence, she further emphasized. Each religion honours and respects women’s rights. She said that for effective  implementation of women friendly laws, the government, law enforcement agencies, human rights organization and civil society organizations shall work hand-in-hand.

While giving the key findings of the events under ‘16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women’, Ms Feroza Zahra, Nataional Programme Manager, AAWAZ Programme, Aurat Foundation, said that women, religious and ethnic minorities and persons with disability are the main focus of AAWAZ Programme.  Giving details of the activities with its partner communities in 450 UC’s of 45 districts, she said that data from 26 districts shows that more than 14,823 people attended these activities out of which 10,051 were women; 128,464 signatures/hand prints are received from 39 districts which pledged to ‘Stop domestic violence, early and forced marriages’; ‘Apno ki yaad’ memorial in each district at UC level to commemorate the women of that particular area who died and lost their lives due to violence were also held.

‘Meet our sisters / Meri hamjoliyan’ were arranged in 45 districts visits to Dar-ul-Aman, shelter homes, jails, meeting HIV aid patients, persons with disabilities to discuss the issues and challenges of these intuitions and people living there; ‘Meeting with legislators / Siyasi Bethak’ meetings arranged where representatives of various political parties, lawyers, media etc. were invited for a discourse on need of legislation for stopping early child and forced marriages was initiated at district level. Provincial conferences on need of legislation for stopping early child and forced marriages were held in Peshawar, Lahore as well.

Ms Anbreen Ajaib, from SPO, that Pakistan has brilliant girls like Malala Yousafzai, icon of girls’ education, and of Irfa Karim an example of brilliant scientific mind.  Ms Shazia of SUNGI Development Foundation, said that apart from the platform of AAWAZ Programme, we also need awareness raising on individual level as well.  A young girl with disabilities, during her address, demanded that the rights of persons with disabilities shall also be considered as human rights.

At the end of the public event, the participants passed resolutions for ending violence against women.  Mr Akram Khurshid, National Progamme Manager, AAWAZ Programme, SPO, read the resolutions for the participants and get those passed.  The major resolutions included: effective legislation and its implementation for ending violence against women and children; domestic violence to be declared as crime; law on marrying little girls be amended and 18 years be declared as the marriage age at the least; the law dealing with the anti-women customary practices like wanni, swara etc be implemented effectively and jurisdiction of the law shall be extended to regions like Gilgit-Baltistan, FATA and PATA; institutions and organizations supporting the violence-affected-women need to be strengthen further, so that women can get medo-legal support through one-window operation.

Renown poet Ms Kishwar Naheed and Ms Alya Mirza read their poems on ending violence against women and girls.  A signature campaign was also launched during the event demanding ending violence and bringing important legislation and ensuring effective implementation of such laws.    

Celebrating Malala Nobel Peace Prize:

In separate event, Aurat Foundation in collaboration with Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalist (RIUJ) organized a live screening of the award ceremony of Malala getting the Nobel Peace Prize.  The participants appreciated Malala’s struggle for girls education and her courage to stand against all odds in this struggle.  The were inspired by her image that ‘when worlds is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.  

The public event, rally and Malala’s award taking ceremony were organized by the consortium partners of AAWAZ Programme – a five-year programme to strengthen democratic processes in Pakistan by making it more open, inclusive and accountable to citizens. It is funded by DFID and managed by DAI. The programme is being implemented in 45 districts across Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces by Aurat Foundation, SAP-Pk, SPO and Sungi Development Foundation.