Wednesday July 24, 2024

Measures to check gender-based violence highlighted

By Saadia Salahuddin
December 18, 2022

LAHORE : All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA) held a consultation with stakeholders on reducing gender-based violence (GBV) recently at a local hotel. On weekend, APWA held a large gathering in its auditorium of its members and workers predominantly women and their children, and announced the recommendations received from the civil society activists, Punjab government representatives and journalists to counter GBV.

Recommendations such as the need to focus on reducing population, expedite local government elections, enhance digital skills and ensure fair wages to women, came from a number of stakeholders. Education was underlined as imperative to effect change in behaviour. It was a diverse group leading action on VAW.

Victims of violence go through much mental torture because of interrogations afterwards. Suggestions came for victimless proceedings and convictions through establishing independent courts to tackle gender-based violence and harassment at workplace plus induction of more women in police. Investigation process including the evidence collection procedure must be expedited to ensure that evidences are collected and presented timely during the trial in rape and sexual violence cases.

A coalition of government and civil society was suggested to coordinate and move forward the action plan of women economic empowerment and to provide support to the public institutions to reduce the incidence of gender-based violence.

It was proposed that the government must declare minimum wages for informal labour force and ensure equal wages to women to reduce income disparities. A Domestic and Home-Based Workers Survey (2021-22) by Labour and Human Resource Department, Government of the Punjab, says among the working women in the informal sector, 80 percent are home-based workers.

The civil society activists demanded technical and vocational education training (TVET) infrastructure, particularly in the rural settings to ensure access of women and girls to the marketable skill set including the digital skills and access to financial services and incentivised pro-women financial products.

A recommendation was to stop child marriage, increase the bride’s age to 18 years and not register any marriage without CNIC of bride and groom. This will deter increase in population.

Cybercrimes including bullying, harassment and shaming must be treated strictly according to the cyber laws and online safe space must be created for women and girls to exercise their talent and accelerate professionally.

The chair of Punjab Commission on the status of women is lying vacant for three and a half years now. The activists demanded from the government to appoint a chairperson PCSW. Fair representation of women must be ensured especially in the decision-making roles at institutional level in public offices, parliament and local governance structures, it was demanded.

The magnitude of violence against women is big. Our culture does not allow women to report violence. To counter VAW there is need to change the environment. This calls for public education campaign through television, digital and social media, print and alternate indigenous mediums of communication. The world has done that and succeeded. We can do that too. The have-nots are increasing and so is frustration. We need to think of creating happy time for people—think out of the box. Those who gave recommendations were Ayesha Iqbal MPA, Sidra Humayun heading UN Women in Lahore, Rabia Usman heading Govt’s Crisis Centre in Lahore, Rafia Kamal Chairperson Women Protection Authority, Lubna Mansoor Director Human Rights Department Govt of Punjab, Roohi Syed former chairperson APWA and Member National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Saamia Zahid Chairperson APWA and Dure Shahwar CEO APWA among others.