Islamabad : Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s Gender Desk received 92 complaints of issues faced by women, transgender and minorities on the Election Day.
The ECP established a Gender Desk for Election Day to receive complaints from women, persons with disability, transgender, minority, female candidates, female polling staff and female polling agents.
Two numbers were dedicated including helpline numbers, 051-9225623 and 051 9225624. The desks were created after information was received from 16 constituencies that women could face issues in casting their votes.
Talking to ‘The News’, Additional Director General Gender for ECP Nighat Siddique said that complaints received by ECP on election day included all sorts of issues. “There were some regarding the access to polling station whereas others were like requesting for vote transfer and of allowing them to vote without producing Identity Card,” she said.
Nighat said that there were some complaints of serious nature like some women were not allowed to enter in polling station despite few minutes remaining in vote polling deadline. “ECP rigorously followed up such complaints and asked the relevant officers to check the situation.”
Nighat said that there were also complaints of women not polling votes in some polling stations. “Again ECP directed their officers to look into the matter. For example, in NA 29, complaint was received but when the Commission officials checked the situation, it was only because women were busy in household work and they planned to cast vote after 2 p.m,” she said.
Citing some other examples, she shared that there were some polling stations where women didn’t show up. “Like in Dharnal, Chakwal, only 8 to 9 women cast their vote. We are looking into such example. But no complaint of any major violation of women’s right to vote was received this time. There are actually some real good and inspiring examples. For example, in Jahan Khan, Sahiwal, women voted for the first time in past 60 years. It was because of the commitment the community leaders made to ECP,” she said.
Before elections, National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), some prominent civil society organisations and human rights activists expressed concern that women could face issues in casting vote in 16 constituencies.
Talking to ‘The News’, NCSW Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said that the Commission received complaints regarding issues women could face in casting vote in 16 constituencies comprised of 67 polling stations.
Some major polling areas include Quetta, Mardan, Lakki Marwat, Nankana Sahib, Chakwal, Mandi Bahauddin, Sargodha, Shaheed Benazir Abad and Karachi. The NCSW chairperson demanded that women’s right to vote be ensured and not denied on any pretext whether local traditions, agreements amongst candidates or their supporters or on account of mobility.
Under section 170(a)(vii) of the elections Act, 2017, it is an offence to prevent any women from contesting elections or right to vote. The offence carries a punishment or fine which may extent to one hundred thousand rupees. Further the Election Commission can declare the election in any constituency null and void should the turnout of women voting be less than Ten Percent of the total votes polled in the constituency.