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Policy dialogue: Political parties stress urgent need for national policy on ending violence against women and girls , Bhurban


Policy dialogue: Political parties stress urgent need for national policy on ending violence against women and girls

Senior representatives of major political parties and parliamentarians, civil society organizations and officials of Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights have agreed at a policy dialogue that country urgently needs a comprehensive national policy on ending violence against women and girls from society.  The 1-day policy dialogue, organized by AAWAZ Voice and Accountability Programme, was held on April 30, 2014, at a local hotel in Bhurbhan.  It was presided over by Mr Mr Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Deputy Speaker, National Assembly and attended by representatives of PML-N, PPPP, MQM, PTI, JI, JUI-F, ANP, QWP and PML-Q.

The participants agreed to develop the national policy in consultation with relevant stakeholders through dialogue at provincial and local level. The proposed policy framework suggested by the participants included a vision statement on safe spaces for women and girls, relevant legislation, institutional and response mechanisms and rehabilitation of survivors of violence against women in a dignified manner. The policy must adhere to promote rule of law at all levels ensuring enforcement of the policy.

The proposed policy framework also included a major awareness raising at all levels on the issues of violence against women and capacity building of police and judicial officers.  It was also said that media, education, creative arts, schools and madarsas as well as other social and political institutions should be involved for creating enabling environment for the success of the policy. 

The proposed framework highlighted the crucial significance of law enforcement agencies such as police and lower judiciary in curbing gender based violence.  The participants also suggested that a one-stop approach is required to address the issue, where medico-legal, police help, shelter home and rehabilitation facilities are put under one roof.

Mr Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Deputy Speaker, National Assembly, in his remarks as Chief Guest, emphasized that civil society organizations must take political parties along in their struggle for gender equalituy.  If the political leaders would be aware of the problems, they would strive to resolve those in the constituencies.  He also suggested that AAWAZ programme should start work in all the provinces so that women and girls of the whole country may benefit this struggle for equality and justice.

The participants expressed deep concern on the increasing incidents of violence against women with the alarming scale and intensity. They highlighted the urgency of early adoption of policy and laws on domestic violence. Earlier, Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen, Gender Specialist, initiated a debate on ‘Gender Based Violence – Forms and Current Situation’ through her representation. 

The representative of political parties and parliamentarians included Senator Ms Farah Aqil Shah, ANP, Senaor Mr Amar Jeet Malhotra, ANP,  Ms Asia Naz Tanoli, MNA, PML-N, Ms Farhana Qamar, MNA, PML-N, Mr Rashid Mehmbood Khan, MNA,  PML-N, Mr Abdul Rehman Kanju, MNA, PML-N, Dr Mahreen Bhuttu, MNA, PPPP, Mr Shaukat Basra, MNA PPPP Punjab, Mr Amir Fida Paracha, Incharge Central Secretariat, PPPP, Islamabad, Mr Muhamad Ali Rashid, MNA, MQM, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, former federal minister, MQM, Ms Kishwar Zahra, MNA, MQM, Mr Ateeq Rehman, office bearer MQM, Mr Shehryar Afridi, MNA, PTI, Ms Munaza Hassan, MNA, PTI, Ms Nafeesa Inayatullah Khattak, MNA, PTI, Ms Sajida Zulfiqar Khan, MNA, PTI, Mr Farid Ahmed Piracha, JI, Dr Rukhsana Jabeen, Secretary Women Wing JI, Naeema Kishwar, MNA, JUI, Ms Shahida Akhtar Ali, MNA, JUI,  Mr Meraj Humayun Khan, MPA, QWP, Mr Tariq Ahmed Khan, Information Secretary, QWP, Mr Sultan Muhammad Khan, MPA, QWP, Mr Asad Afridi Advocate, office bearer QWP FATA, Ms Jameela Gilani, former MNA, ANP, Syed Jaffar Shah, officer bearer, ANP, Ms Maham Ali, General Secretary Central Women Wing, PML-Q, Ms Fauzia Naz, Secretary General Women Wing PML-Q, Syed Faqir Hussain Bukhari, office bearer PML-Q.

Mr Muhammad Hassan Mangi, Director General International Commitments and Human Rights Wing, Mr Munawar Douggal, Legal Consultant and Mr Shahzad Ahmed represented the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights.  Mr Harris Khalique, Mr Sajif Mansoor Qaisrani, Mr Naeem Mirza, Younas Khalid, Ms Naghma Imdad, Mr Irfan Mufti, Ms Anbreen Ajaib represented AAWAZ consortium.

AWAZ Voice and Accountability, a five year programme, is aimed at inclusive and tolerant democracy in Pakistan, which is open, inclusive and accountable to citizens, specially focused on women and minority religious groups. The project is implemented through five leading NGOs of Pakistan i.e. Aurat Foundation, Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK), SUNGI Development Foundation and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), and a management organization (DAI).  The geographical range of AAWAZ Programme is 45 districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.