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MINGORA: The first women assembly in Swat on Tuesday demanded 50 per cent seats for women in legislature, a crackdown on women’s trafficking, end to child marriages and empowerment of women members of the local governments.

The assembly was formed in January under the Aurat Foundation’s Voice and Accountability Programme to address the issues of local women especially those on their rights.

The women’s representatives from across Swat district are part of it. It has 33 members, including 30 elected on general seats and three on those reserved for minorities, transgender and people with disability each.

During the assembly’s session, women discussed their issues. Speaker of the assembly, Tabassum Adnan, said the incidence of child marriages in the district was on the increase. “We unanimously demand that the KP government pass a bill against child marriages through the provincial assembly without delay for implementation,” she said.

She said the due share in government jobs for women was also demanded.

Ms Tabassum demanded girl schools for the areas, where girls have no access to education due to unavailability of building. She said women should be given seats in legislature equal to those of men, while the Election Commission should establish women-only offices across the province.

The speaker demanded separate National Database Registration Authority and Benazir Income Support Programme offices for women, especially those located in Pakhtun areas, saying local traditions stopped women from going to the offices run by men.

The assembly speaker demanded extension of the Access to Information Act to Malakand division.

She said the women assembly demanded of the government to immediately stop women trafficking and violence against women.

Members of the assembly later said the house was a suitable platform for women of different areas to discuss their issues and ways to resolve them.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2016