ISLAMABAD, June 26: Human rights activists and NGOs have demanded an effective law to eliminate torture on women in custody.

Speaking at a seminar on Tuesday, they said even after two years of ratification of United Nations Convention against Torture (CAT) and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment the government could not enact any exclusive law to protect women in custody.

The seminar was organised by Oxfam and SACH to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and participated by government officials, NGOs, civil society and law enforcement agencies.

They stressed the need of introducing best practices to ensure proper treatment of prisoners and people in custody.

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture observed on Tuesday commemorates the signing of the United Nations Charter on June 24, 1946 and the enforcement of the Convention against Torture (CAT) the same day in 1987.

This convention was adopted and opened for signature and ratification by the General Assembly Resolution 39/46 on Dec 10, 1984.

Arif Jabbar Khan, Country Director of Oxfam in Pakistan, said the government together with the civil society must step up work to overcome this problem at the earliest.

“Often women are found to be more vulnerable and susceptible to torture while in custody,” he said.

Mr Khan referred to a recent expert poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation which ranked Pakistan as the world’s third most dangerous country for women.

The speakers said that it was essential to educate women in custody regarding their legal rights.

“Our society is very critical of women who have served time in custody it is very difficult for them to transition back to a normal life. Their livelihood and social relations suffer as a consequence. Shelter homes and law enforcement agencies must provide counseling and the necessary help to these women to ensure that they are able to cope with societal pressures when they go back”, said Khan.

The NGOs are working towards improving the social acceptance of torture survivors and to ensure that their rights are protested.

However, they stressed the need of nation-wide efforts to increase awareness of this widespread and little-discussed issue of torture in custody.

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