LAHORE, June 27: Participants in a seminar have urged the government and the civil society to make joint efforts to ensure implementation of pro-women laws in letter and spirit.

The seminar on ‘Law enforcement for pro-women legislation and the Domestic Violence Bill’ was arranged by Mumkin, an alliance of 18 civil society organisations, at a local hotel on Wednesday.

Chief Minister’s Adviser Begum Zakia Shahnawaz said the attitude of the society towards domestic violence was deplorable as it was considered a family matter in which the law and state should not intervene.

Some 610 incidents of domestic violence were reported and around 10,000 women were identified as victims of violence or forced marriage in the country, she said and added that it was the responsibility of the state to protect its population, especially the most vulnerable segments like women, elderly people and children, and to punish perpetrators.

Ms Shahnawaz said the Punjab government was encouraging the pro-women legislation and would effectively implement the Domestic Violence Bill after its passage from the provincial assembly after which such issues would be addressed amicably in Punjab and no-one would dare to torture the vulnerable people.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan General Secretary I.A Rehman said the government should be persuaded to implement in letter and spirit all laws in general and those pertaining to vulnerable segment of society in particular.

He said that it was the duty of the civil society to see how many cases were reported and how many were in courts.

Hina Hafeezullah Ishaq of Nasreen Trust explained various clauses of the draft domestic violence bill and its provisions, punishments and central demand for survivors of violence.

She urged the government to take proper action to protect vulnerable persons irrespective of gender.

Acid Survivor Foundation President Valerie Khan stressed the need to adopt law enforcement mechanisms for the pro-women legislation.

Vulnerable persons, especially women, had been facing a lot of problems to get cases registered in the police station concerned, she said.

Punjab Bar Council president Rana Muhammad Asif Saeed highlighted various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code regarding family disputes and domestic violence issues.

Social Welfare and Baitul Maal Secretary Sardar Akram Javeed spoke about the measures taken by the government for the betterment of women victims of violence.

He specifically mentioned the 35 shelter homes in Punjab where some 10,000 or so victims were accommodated free of cost annually.

Mumkin advocacy manager Summiya Yousaf said that 6,188 cases of violence against women had been reported in Punjab in 2011.

The passage of the Domestic Violence Bill and its implementation should remain key challenges and the Punjab government should be the model province for women rights.

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