‘Gender-based violence most pervasive rights violation’

December 05, 2022

Islamabad : Gender-based violence is a shared challenge and it remains the most pervasive human rights violation around the world, said Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Neil...

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Islamabad : Gender-based violence is a shared challenge and it remains the most pervasive human rights violation around the world, said Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Neil Hawkins.

"Unfortunately, prevalence is increasing as result of intersecting crises of climate change, global conflict, and economic instability. Crises like the floods that inundated much of the country in August, increase the vulnerability of women and girls to many forms of violence,” the envoy told a workshop jointly organised by the Australian High Commission and the Centre for Excellence in Journalism for media professionals as part of events marking "16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women." According to the organisers, the Australian High Commission supported such an event for the third time to promote the training of journalists in gender-sensitive, ethical, and respectful reporting on violence against women.

Journalists reporting on women rights, including news editors from across the country's mainstream media, attended the event. The Australian high commissioner highlighted the importance of gender equality and how societies that value women and men as equal are safer and healthier. He said his country was strongly committed to being at the forefront of efforts to empower women and girls and promote gender equality around the world, including in Pakistan.

Mr Hawkins reflected on his recent visit to Quetta saying he met many survivors of gender-based violence, who are receiving assistance through the support of Australia. “Providing support and care to survivors of violence is critical. However, the focus needs to be on prevention. We must shift social norms that accept violence and tackle gender stereotypes head on. Prevention is the only way to stop violence before it even occurs. This requires greater investment in women’s organisations and addressing the multiple forms of discrimination women face daily,” he said.

The high commissioner said the role of media was critical to making that happen. He said the media had the power to create awareness of the rights, needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls, as well as challenging traditional social and cultural norms and attitudes that condone violence against women. Australian journalist and advocate for gender equity Virginia Haussegger joined Pakistani media persons Amber Shamsi and Zarar Kohhro and and legal expert Sara Malkhani to share experiences about the transformative role media can play in preventing violence against women and girls.

Ms Haussegger said, “Gender-based violence is endemic across all nations and in all communities. As journalists it is our job to shine a light on systemic failures to keep women safe. It is also critical that we deepen our understanding of the role of perpetrators, and support women victim-survivors to raise their voice in the media.” Ms Shamsi said unlike theft, fraud or other petty crimes, gender-based violence was intersectional. She said reporters and other journalists came from the same society, which perpetuated gender-based violence and they often needed to examine their own bias to be able to report fairly and sensitively.

Meanwhile, Chairman Capital Development Authority (CDA), Muhammad Usman and Chairperson NCSW, Nilofar Bakhtiar launched a cycling rally at Jinnah Avenue to raise awareness and support the campaign against femicide in light of 16 days of activism, an international campaign to end gender-based violence at.

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