HYDERABAD, May 29: Speakers at a seminar on ‘Rights of women and complaints redressal mechanism’ on Wednesday underscored the need for sensitizing communities regarding rights of women who, they said, were still considered vulnerable section of society.

Addressing the seminar and workshop organised in a local hotel by the regional ombudsman office, they supported women’s empowerment and their participation in decision-making for development of society.

Speakers included Sindh Ombudsman Asad Ashraf Malik, Sindh ombudsman’s secretariat secretary Mohammad Saleh Farooqui, media house owner Ghulam Nabi Morai, women’s rights activist Amar Sindhu, Waheeda Mahesar and Rafiq Chandio from Szabist, Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) Hyderabad president Nisar Durrani and Akram Saeed.

Mr Malik said the ombudsman office would establish women complaint cells to receive complaints against government departments/organisations which failed to provide justice to women especially in cases relating to domestic violence and forced marriages.

He said his office was running a child complaint cell with help of Unicef and now a women complaint cell would be set up.

He said that although his office could not intervene in private matters, but it could hold officials accountable who were supposed to provide justice in matters relating to forced marriages and domestic violence.

Illiteracy and unawareness among women were main factors of injustices. Majority of rural women lived in subhuman conditions. These women did not have access to education and social justice.

He said regional ombudsman offices would be set up at each district headquarter to create awareness among the masses about their rights and early redressal of grievances free of cost. He said laws were there but their proper implementation was needed. He stressed the need that NGOs working for protection of women rights should be more vigilant and proactive in protecting their rights and educate them.

Saleh Farooqui said the state was supposed to provide justice and rights to all segments of the society without discrimination and a level-playing field needed to be made available to every class so that its people could realise their true potential. He wondered how could a society develop itself when 51 per cent of its people — women — were deprived of their rights. “We live in a land of contrasts. Our women are National Assembly speaker, diplomat, foreign minister but we also do have women deprived of their basic rights,” he said.

A teacher of Szabist, Waheeda Mahesar, shed light on women’s rights with Islamic perspective. She said that Quran being a complete code of life enshrined equal rights for women and men.

She said that until 1913 women’s were subject to a black custom in which their feet were fixed in an object so that it should not grow beyond four inch so that they looked beautiful. In Europe and Greece women did not have property and other rights.

She however regretted that women lacked empowerment as far as decision making was concerned. She was critical of the term ‘women’s rights’ and said that the last sermon of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was all encompassing under which men and women were equal. Likewise, she continued, women were not ‘house-wife’ but house makers “But her skills and services within a family are taken for granted,” she said.

Amar Sindhu said that in any under-developed society women shared the same destiny. She said that actually it was all about the power and the powerless. She said that women’s empowerment could only be defined by a woman herself and none else.

HCBA president Nisar Durrani advocate quoted different laws that had been enacted in the country since inception of the country and it was 1979 when controversial Hudood Laws were enacted. He said that under Qannon-e-Shahadat a woman’s testimony was to be accepted once it was corroborated by another woman. He added that women’s seats were also increased in early 2000.

Ghulam Nabi Morai said maternal mortality ratio was very high in Pakistan as health facilities remained inaccessible to women.

He said society’s development was directly linked with women’s progress.


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