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Rights of women: Experts urge for anti-violence campaign to continue beyond 16 days
Nov 24, 2015
By Mariam Shafqat
Stress that cultural limits must be transcended. PHOTO: FILE
An activism campaign was launched on Tuesday marking the international ‘white ribbon day’ for the elimination of violence against women.
The ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’, an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls, is being carried out by the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) in collaboration with the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC).
WRC Chief Executive Omer Aftab said the theme of this year’s campaign is to celebrate and recognise strong women who have excelled in their respective fields, despite social and cultural hurdles.
NCSW Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said violence against women knows no boundaries, and occurs around the world.
“The only difference is that we as an underdeveloped nation are still struggling to bring perpetrators of domestic violence to justice,” Mumtaz said.
She urged for the campaign not to be confined to 16 days.
“We at the commission feel that one of the biggest obstacles to empowering women is violence. Unless we eliminate it, their untapped potential will remain unused,” Mumtaz said.
She stressed on the need for women to actively participate in all spheres of public life.
“We have also developed a framework for launching a national baseline survey on violence against women,” she added.
Hadiqa Bashir, a 14-year-old activist from Swat, working on the issue of forced marriages, said the practice is a worldwide issue. Human rights organisations have been trying to stop it, as it creates financial and health issues, she said.
“In our society, women are silently expected to agree to wherever there parents decide to marry them off. A woman’s ability to silently bear domestic violence is considered a good quality in her,” she said.
“It is our collective responsibility to protect young girls and women from domestic violence and the injustices they face due to cultural constraints,” she said.
National football team captain Sana Mehmood called for behavioural change when it comes to gender stereotyping.
“Nobody would ask a boy or man to explain why he chose to play football — so when a girl does, our society needs to be more supportive towards them,” Mehmood said, sharing her experience as a woman athlete.
“We need to stop categorising and labelling certain activities with men and women,” she added.
Noreena Shams, a squash player, cricketer and cyclist, spoke about the support she got from her family, which proved vital for her success in more than one type of sport.
Bonded Labour Liberation Front Founder Syeda Ghulam Fatimah spoke about women working in brick kilns. She said these women are far more vulnerable than their male counterparts, as they have no legal identification or recognition at work or at home.
“I went through various incidents of physically assault by owners and even police; I was eventually successful in getting latrines made at brick kilns [for women] around two districts, and helped around 15,000 women getting their identity cards and right to vote.”
Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson encouraged people to participate in the one million-signature pledge on violence against women. She also stressed on the need to work with men and boys to prevent gender violence.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Justice Ali Nawaz Chohan informed the audience on gender violence and Islam. “Having studied the Shariah, I am qualified to [refute] claims by clerics who say it is [permissible] to thrash your wife a little.”
He stressed on the need to transcend cultural limitations and welcome enlightenment, where men and women can thrive.
Report by Geo News: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence launched by White Ribbon and NCSW #EndViolenceAgainstWomen #WhiteRibbon #NCSWPosted by White Ribbon Campaign Pakistan on Saturday, November 28, 2015