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Seminar on Forced Marriages by National Commission on the status of Women in collaboration with Shirkat Gah women's resource centre

Nov 30, -0001

National commission on the status of women and SHIRKATGAH organized a seminar on “Forced Marriages” to commemorate the 16 days of activism against gender violence on 2nd December, 2009 at Pearl Continental, Lahore. The seminar brought together nearly 290 participants which included members of civil society, members of NGO’s, Parliamentarians, women’s rights activists, Scholars and teachers.

The panelists of the seminar consisted of Justic Retd Nasira Iqbal, Ms. Rani Shamim Akhter, Dr.Saman Yazdani, Professor Izhar-ul-Haq, and Ms. Farida Shaheed

NCSW’s Misbah Momin member BoD, NCSW said in her welcome address that a woman should be respected for her many roles in society. She thanked the government for supporting women’s development, quoting slain Benazir Bhutto’s works that she would like to be remembered for her work as regard to women. Misbah Momin in her address requested the Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to support the NCSW to become an autonomous body. She also highlighted the works being carried out by NCSW and the one’s under process. She mentioned the passing of Domestic Violence Bill in the parliament and parts of the Sexual Harassment Bill. She emphasized on the cases of “Swati Flogging” and “Phool Nagar” and insisted on the need for women to work with unity and harmony, regardless of their different roles in society, as women are the root cause of progress. She said that NCSW is working on Child Restraint Marriage Act-1929.

Dr. Saman Yazdani Khan, Regional Director SG said that women were usually denied their due status in society. Though women health indicators are better today than the past, women mortality rate is still high, and they have not become entirely independent, she said. They have a low status in society, have no role in decision-making and the girl child is discriminated against since the time of her detection in the womb, she said.

Rani Shamim Akhtar from Nankana Sahib recited some of her poetry regarding women and the treatment meted out to them.

The Chief Guest at the occasion, Justice Nasira Iqbal, said women were treated a part of property and in fact treated worse than animals. In all fields what-so-ever, women’s representation should at least be around 30 to 33%, said Justice Nasira. She added that the media should not portray women as objects of pleasure alone and that a woman should exercise her legal rights. She said that women in Pakistan were supposed to mould to “Chaddar and Char Diwari”; they cannot decide how many children to bear, and even are forced to marry against their will.

Professor Izhar-ul-Haq spoke on women’s rights in the light of the Holy Quran and Hadith that men and women are equal in Islam and this theory needs to be propagated more than ever today. Women have an individualistic existence in Islam and even have complete freedom to choose whom they want to marry.

Farida Shaheed, discussed the issue of customs versus rights of women, saying that violence against women was a problem of society and that society should take care of this menace.
“Women are denied their rights by way of religion and culturally,” she said. “Ours is a patriarchal society but violence against women should not be tolerated in any form. Women are perhaps not seen as a complete individual in our part of the world and are not even allowed to stand up and ask for their rights. Breaking the silence and speaking out is necessary for a change to come into effect,” said Ms. Shaheed rounding up the discussion.
 

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