LARKANA: Speakers at a seminar have stressed the need to implement different laws passed on women rights so as to protect them from domestic violence and also demanded the establishment of women committees at the district level for the cause.

They were addressing a seminar on Violence Against Women organised by the Civil Society Support Programme (CSSP) and the Larkana women development department in collaboration with the Enhanced Democratic Accountability and Civic Engagement (EDACE) here at a local hotel on Monday.

Hindu Panchayat Committee Larkana district chairperson Kalpana Devi said women rights’ situation was dismal in the rural areas of Sindh. Many women in the rural areas fell victim to domestic violence daily, but not much was heard about their agony. Though the domestic violence was on the rise, it came into public notice only when victims were killed. Otherwise this kind of violence remained shrouded in secrecy within the four walls of the house.

Women rights activist Dr Sakina Gaad said women in Sindh generally faced various forms of violence that included domestic and physical, and mental abuse, rape, acid throwing and burning alive. Honour killing was the height of the violence, she added. She stressed the need for ensuring formal education in society to create awareness about demerits of under-age marriages and impact of violence against women on families and relationships.

Akeel Ahmed Bhutto, general secretary of the High Court Bar Association, focused on the harmful practices of child marriages and quoted Pakistan Penal Code Section 310 A that prohibits the customary practices in which girls are given to settle disputes or civil liability. He also referred sections 498-A, B and C of the PPC that is about women’s right to inherent property, and that discourages forced marriages and marriages of the girl with the Holy Quran, respectively.

He said that the recently enacted Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013 and Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2013 were the landmark steps for the protection of women rights.

Mr Bhutto said the laws protecting women’s rights existed but were rarely implemented. He suggested sensitising police to deal fairly with the cases of violence against women.

ADC-I Liaquat Ali Bhatti, Afzal Shaikh of the CSSP, women development department deputy director Shama Parveen, social welfare district officer Faheem Athar Bhutto and police officer Zarina Chandio also spoke.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2016

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