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Parliamentarians’ role in eliminating violence against women stressed -- 16 Days of Activism, Islamabad


Parliamentarians’ role in eliminating violence against women stressed -- 16 Days of Activism

Aurat Foundation, in collaboration with Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) organised a study circle on November 25, the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women.   The study circle was organised on 25 November, 2015, at Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS), Islamabad.  Participants included women member of National Assembly, who are also member of Women Parliamentary Caucus, women journalists and representatives of civil society.

Parliamentarians who  attended the study circle included  Dr Fauzia Hameed MQM, Ms Asia Naz Tanoli PML-N, Ms Mussarat Rafique PPPP,  Dr  Shazia Sobia, PPPP, Ms Suraiya Jatui, PPPP, Ms Shahida Rehmani,  PPPP, Ms Shakila Luqman Chaudhry, PML-N, Ms  Shazia Ashfaq, PML-N, Ms Naseema Hafeez  Panezai  PMAP, Ms  Munazzia  Hasan PTI, and former MNA and  member  Council of  Islamic Ideology (CII) Dr Samia Raheel Qazi.

The theme for study circle was ‘Significance of 16 Days of Activism and Role of Parliamentarians in Elimination of Violence against Women’. The study circle was intended to highlight the systemic nature of gender based violence that encourages inequality and discrimination and how women parliamentarians can play an effective role in its elimination.

Ms Tahira Aurangzeb, MNA, and member Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) briefed the participants on the significance of 16 days of activism and role of parliamentarians in  elimination of violence against women. She  said that violence  against  women is  not confined  to  any particular political or economic system, but it prevalent in every society in the  world.  A World Health Organization’s report  reveals  that  physical and  sexual violence against  women affects more than  one-third of women globally, she further said.

The  Constitution of  Pakistan  under  Article 25 (2) states that “There  shall be no discrimination on the  basis of sex alone”, however  Article 26 (2) observes that  “Nothing in  clause  (1)  shall prevent  the  state  from making any special  provision for women  and children”. However, the  situation  on ground is different, she said.   

While elaborating the  work of Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC), a  cross party forum for women parliamentarians, Ms Aurangzeb said the  Caucus has proposed some of the most innovative legislation including the ‘National Commission on  the Status of Women Act 2012, ‘Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill, 2011’, ‘The  Acid Control and  Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010’,  ‘The  Criminal Protection against Harassment of Women at  the  Workplace Act, 2010’,  and ‘The  Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill,  2009’.

Prof Farkhanda Aurangzeb, Director Coordination and Resource  Mobilization, Aurat  Foundation, spoke  on  the significance of  16 Days of  Activism, tracing  its  historical perspective and relating  to  our own social systems related to attitudes of violence prevalent nationally and globally.    

Ms Rabeea Hadi, Director Advocacy, Aurat Foundation, gave a detailed presentation on the history of ’16 Days of Activism’ and situation of violence in Pakistan during January – June 2015 period. Telling the history of 16 days of activism she said  that  November 25was declared as a day against violence against women by the first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Bogota, Colombia, 18 to 21 July, 1981. It originally marked the day that the three Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic were violently assassinated in 1960 during the Trujillo dictatorship (Rafael Trujillo 1930-1961).

Ms Rabeea Haid,  while giving the figures  of violence  against  women said  that 7 women per day fall  under the category of Murder, Honor killing and suicide, 5 women are kidnapped or abducted per day, 3 women are raped or gang raped  daily, and 1 women face domestic violence every day.

Situation of Violence Against Women (VAW) during January – June 2015 period

Offences Against Women

No  of Cases

Kidnapping / abduction




Rape / gang rape




‘Honour’  killing


Domestic violence


Sexual  assault


Acid throwing









Syed Shamoon Hashmi, Joint Secretary, Project Management Unit (PMU), National Assembly, talked about  how social attitudes  and  domestic environment  contribute  in  violence against women and its prevalence Pakistan.

Ms Shahida Akhtar  Ali, MNA, concluded  the  study circle. She  paid  tribute to  the  first and only women pilot Marriyum Mukhtar, who died in a  plane crash during  a training flying  session yesterday. 

The 16-days, starting from November 25 - International Day Against Violence Against Women, till  December 10 - International Human Rights Day, were chosen to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. The 16-days period also highlights: November 29 - the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1- the World AIDS Day, December 3 – the International Day of Persons with Disability, and December 6 which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The participants agreed on some daunting challenges and recommendations how to resolve  these. The said that  there is a notable  absence of state response and larger framework that needs to strengthen institutional mechanism including gender crime cell,  women caucuses, national policy framework on VAW (internally displaced, disability).  They agreed that  for implementation of laws and criminal justice system for VAW we need  to take male parliamentarians  on board.