Islamabad, December 02, 2020 (PPI-OT): Violence against women is a global phenomenon that needs to be responded everywhere. However, lack of the implementation on relevant laws is a matter of serious concern in societies like Pakistan and structural reforms therefore are need of the hour to deal with this issue. The speakers share this consensus view while sharing their thoughts with the audience at webinar ‘Violence against Women in Pakistan, a Shadow Pandemic: Responsibilities of State amid COVID-19 and Beyond’ organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), here . Wendy GILMOUR, The Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan, while highlighting the global assistance policy of Canada, said that this policy revolves around strengthening judicial system and supporting victims of such acts of violence.
Moreover, we are working with civil society organizations at the grassroots level to build support systems for the victims of gender-based violence. Destigmatizing of reporting rape cases is crucial to ensure victim’s access to justice, she concluded. “Although the occurrence of the gender-based violence in our society is quite alarming, such incidents are now being reported and highlighted widely that is a positive development.” Ms Khawar Mumtaz, Former Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women, highlighted. Mumtaz added further that the lack of seriousness on the part of state institutions is one major obstacle in the ways of victim’s access to justice. Therefore, it would be important to build the capacity of structures in the justice system, she added.
Romina Khurshid Alam, Member National Assembly of Pakistan, emphasized that the policy makers, women parliamentarians, and civil society organizations need to work together to address the structural lacunas such as rape being treated as a compoundable offense. We need to focus on the real issues and improve the capacity of institutions for the better implementation of laws. Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, was of view that marking 16 Days of Activism is a much needed initiative but keeping the intensity of violence against women in our society, we need to work with the same zeal throughout the year to respond to this menace effectively.
“Covid-19 and resulting increased reliance on internet and expensive gadgets for the connective has highlighted the pertinent issue of digital inequality,” Dr Suleri said and added that the number of out of school children, especially girls has been increased due to pandemic and thus, this issue need to be responded on urgent basis. Asma Shirazi, Senior journalist, earlier. Opine that online harassment has become a new form of violence against the women.
She said that such violence is being used as a tool to silence the dissenting voices by the regimes in an organized manner. TV Host Munizae Jahangir and Senior Journalist Arifa Noor, highlighted the gaps in the implementation of laws in rape and other crimes against the women and emphasized on the need of capacity building and training of the relevant officials in the justice system.
Fauzia Shahid, Former Secretary General PFUJ/Senior Journalist, also shared her views with the participants and said that the society was systematically turned anti-women by the state, especially after 1977 and it has fanned gender-based violence in the society. Ms Marvi Awan, Chairperson Women Protection Cell, was of view that the government and civil society need to join hands to improve implementation on the laws in the cases of domestic violence and gender-based violence.
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