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A consultative moot to discuss best practices by Provincial Commissions on the Status of Women to mitigate GBV

Islamabad: An “Advocacy dialogue on Gender Based Violence, legislation and Policy- Completing the Agenda” held by South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) in collaboration with European Union and Khwendo Kor (KK) at Ramada hotel, Islamabad. The dialogue was attended by all stakeholders, which includes Representatives from NCSW and all other provincial CSWs, prosecutors, CSOs, media, parliamentarians, lawyers and judicial officials among others.

Ms. Sajila Sohail Khan, Programme Coordinator GBV, NCA presented the vote of thanks to the participants and demonstrated the projects’ interventions while admiring the team efforts. Ms. Naeema Malik, National Manager Gender and Human Rights, SAP-PK shared the objectives of the dialogue through explaining potential types of Women’s Rights violations that have frequently occurred.

Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women highlighted the achievement of Women’s Action Forum. She said that women rights should be treated as a human right while there is need to popularize existing women protection laws at community level. In order to achieve the objective, institutional strengthening to address procedures simplification, non-threatening personnel at these women model court should be kept significant. In Pakistan, there are around 36 laws which one way or the other are present for women protection however, there is a strong need to develop institutional advocacy. She stressed upon the role of Jirga and expressed that there is a need to limit the scope of Jirga as all the issues of criminal nature should be dealt in courts than Jirga.

Ms. Zainab Jaffery, Project Manager Punjab Commission on the Status of Women shared about the best practices of PCSW carried out for women. She explained the new project which is Transitional Housing for Women. In order to fill post crises phase gap, Transitional Housing Scheme is established for women to provide them with skill based training followed by placing them in the appropriate jobs where she stays there for the period of a year. PCSW has also established a Gendered Management Information System to monitor Gender Parity extracted from the data available from different departments of commission under women’s issues related themes. This is to mention that in 2016, the reported cases against VAW were 7,316 and convictions were 100. And till 2017 June, the highest cases reported are 3,406, out of which 1,365 are of rape. Punjab Commission’s Helpline has been established since 2014. Under this complaint centre, the total inquiries received until 2017 are 60,131 and the complaints are 1,275. The highest of them were domestic violence, torture, harassment, kidnapping etc. Most of the complaints we receive are from the areas of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Muzaffargarh. First ever GBV model was also inaugurated in Lahore on 23rd Oct, 2017.

Zainab also emphasized on the growing offence of cyber-crime, due to which there is an increased number of suicides, tortures. Along with cyber-crime, gender sensitization of police, judiciary especially on rape cases was requested to add up for the future agenda.

Neelum Toroo Chairperson Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women highlighted the new initiative undertaken under the mandate of KPCSW, District Committees on the Status of Women (DCSWs) in each district of KP. She said “Here I am proud to mention that we have established committees in 23 districts except in Kohistan, Torwar as we are facing a lot challenges in working in these areas.” These vibrant committees are composed of 10 people; 2 from exofficio govt. The powers implied to its Chairperson will be equivalent to Grade-17 government officers, district councilors of district councils, representation from lawyers and civil society. This model will prove to be an effective model to be inaugurated in 16 days of activism. We have also launched a project with the collaboration of other donors “Body of Evidence” (One stop for Rape victims). Under this project, we intend to work with police, medico-legal institutions and judiciary. Once our GMIS system and DCSWs in place, we will have a lot more to deliver till 2018.

On the behalf of Ms. Nuzhat Shireen (Chairperson Sindh Commission on the Status of Women), Sawai Mal Programme Officer from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) shared the updates; The Women Action Forum has demanded activation of the Sindh Commission on Status of Women without further delay, as the Sindh Assembly has already legislated on setting up the Commission since April 2015, but the body has yet to be made operational.

The government notified the setting up of the Commission in May 2017. Under the notification, only 19 days were given to complete the setup. However, even after 27 months, the law could not be implemented. Ms. Neema Malik also shared the updates of Baluchistan. The Baluchistan Commission on the Status of Women has yet not been established however the bill was presented in the assembly in May, 2017. The bill has still been pending with the law department who has sent back the bill to the parliament with several recommendations.

Participants concluded the discussions while explaining the Women Rights are not looked from the “Rights Angle” due to the in-effectiveness of laws despite of their existence. All laws should be inclusive, grass root women, girls boys should be part of the process. Most of the women commission committee at the district level needs to be revitalized and functional. More sensitization of CSOs, government institutes on gender based violence is required through public private partnership, with a trickledown effect.