Islamabad: Participants at a consultative meeting urged the need to mobilize communities to prevent violence against women (VAW). They observe that it is the community that often excludes women and perpetrates crimes against women through rigid traditional practices or social pressures and the best way to tackle this, is by creating community ownership through a community development mode.
Ms. Mome Saleem, Research Associates SDPI, Justice (r) Fakhar-un-Nisa Khokhar, MNA PPP, Ms Fouzia Ejaz, MNA MQM, Ms Nasreen Azhar, Member National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW), Ms. Sofia Noreen, National Project Manager, National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW), Mr Riaz Hussain, Director General, Ministry of Women Development and Mr. Shehzad Ahmad Deputy Director, Ministry of Women Development spoke at a consultative meeting on “Community Ownership to end Violence against Women” organized by at SDPI here on Wednesday. Mr. Shafqat Munir, Senior Advisor, SDPI, chaired the proceedings.
Mome Saleem gave a detailed presentation and shared policy recommendations based on strategies adopted by communities to end violence against women. She said that despite recent policy reforms and institutional arrangements, there has been increase in cases of violence in past years mainly due to lack of implementation strategies besides other reasons. She also lamented the irresponsive attitudes of state owned formal institutions that restrict woman to lodge complaint against the perpetrator.
She suggested that VAW can be prevented through awareness raising among women, men and general community and knowledge of its facets legal social and religious rights of a woman, strong policies, institutional arrangements, implementation strategies and accountability of formal and informal institutions.
She said that the best way to tackle VAW is by creating community ownership through a community development mode. She elaborated that community can be engaged to develop, adopt and implement strategies to repeal discriminatory norms while working in line with the indigenous culture. Therefore no perceived challenge/threat is caused to the indigenous culture.
She presented some policy recommendations to end violence against women having emphasis on formation of community groups, inking up these groups with existing infrastructures (Crises centres, shelter homes, police complaint centre etc), ensure accountability of state owned institutions, Primary level prevention through media, religious leaders and front line force e.g. Women/Men Gender councillors (L/MGC), Gender sensitization of curriculum (especially, Islamiyat and ethics books) , efficient and free of cost medico legal aid, establishing of frontline force under ministry of women development , Public campaign targeting behaviour change especially of men, Proactive campaign on legal awareness like nikah namma, investigation and on procedures a rape victim should follow, Information about referral centres and direction for media to change the focus from the victim to the perpetrator.
Justice (r) Fakhar-un-Nisa expressed that loopholes in law allows offenders to get away with this and there is need to revisit these gender specific bills such as domestic violence bill. She said that Government should demarcate the regions with most cases of violence against women and then pin down those areas with exhaustive activities to end violence against women. She criticized third rate Nikah Khwan’s and suggested to replace them with magistrates to register marriages.
Shehzad Ahmad briefed that Ministry of Women Development has engaged all ministries to share their draft bills with them and to make them gender sensitive.
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