PESHAWAR, June 20: The NWFP government will re-investigate allegations of forced prostitution in a women’s shelter being run by the All Pakistan Women’s Association (Apwa) in the city for decades. Social Welfare and Women Development Minister Kashif Azam said the district social welfare official had investigated the matter but added that a summary would be sent to Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani soon for carrying out a full-fledged inquiry.
Darul Aman, situated on the main G.T. Road, came in the limelight when a newspaper recently published a report accusing Apwa staffers of forcing some girls of the shelter house into prostitution.
The regional directorate of the ministry of law, justice and human rights took notice of the report and asked the provincial social welfare department to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
The provincial social welfare directorate investigated the matter. The inquiry officer in her report expressed dissatisfaction over security arrangements at Darul Aman but she did not find any evidence to prove the allegation.
The inquiry officer suggested hiring an in-house doctor for providing medical treatment to inmates. She also suggested appointment of two lady constables who could accompany inmates when they went out. She recommended the inclusion of a social welfare official in the Apwa board running the shelter.
Meanwhile, Apwa chairperson Begum Zari Sarfaraz in a letter to the in-charge of Darul Aman, Ayesha Bukhari, hinted at closing down the facility.
The local chapter of Apwa has not yet decided to close it down and is waiting for the return of Begum Zari who is presently in England. The Apwa head is expected to return in a month.
Ms Bukhari, who has been associated with Apwa since 1976, complained that the government had never extended any support to run Darul Aman. She said there were 16 women who had taken shelter in Darul Aman.
Talking to Dawn, the inmates said they were in a shelter and not in a jail. They said they went out shopping or for jobs which did not mean that they were involved in illegal activities.
Ms Tanveer, an official at the shelter house, said the administration investigated before admitting anyone to the house. The shelter did not grant admission to women involved in criminal cases and sent by courts because they were trouble-makers, she added. Kainat, a victim of domestic violence living in the shelter with her three-year-old son for three years, said the shelter provided them protection. She said they would not have any place to live in if Darul Aman was closed. In that case, she said, they might be forced into prostitution and added that the government would be responsible for their plight.