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Hundreds of women rally against Hudood laws

September 21, 2006


ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: Hundreds of women from dozens of civil society organisations held a rally in front of Parliament House seeking repeal of the controversial Hudood ordinances which they said was a byproduct of ‘Mullah Military Alliance’.

This was the start of a countrywide campaign of civil society organisations and NGOs for the repeal of Hudood ordinances. Such rallies would also be held in other major cities in the coming days. The rally started from China Chowk. Earlier, the protesters gathered in front of the Parliament House suspending the traffic on one side of the main road in Blue Area for nearly an hour.

A large number of law enforcement agencies personnel including woman police were present to avoid any untoward incident, however, the rally remained peaceful.

Renowned poetess Kishwar Naheed also read out some of her poems on the occasion in which she highlighted the fear of religious-minded people regarding the rights of women and their equal status in society.

The protesters were carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans that ridiculed the so-called enlightened moderation of the government and condemned the sufferings of thousands of poor women under Hudood ordinance in the name of Islam.

Led by Farzana Bari of Pattan Development Organisation and Naeem Mirza of Aurat Foundation, the rally condemned the politicisation of women rights issues and demanded that Hudood ordinances be repealed immediately.

In a joint declaration, they condemned the government’s decision to amend rather than repeal Hudood laws.

They said the recent debate surrounding Hudood ordinances had proven that there was not a single religious party in the country which thought that all was well with the Hudood laws. Thus there was no justification on the part of the government to keep this law operational even for a single day.

They also demanded that the Parliament should immediately be reconvened and the Hudood ordinances must be repealed.

The speakers said Hudood laws clearly violated the spirit of Islam.

Thousands of ill-fated women and men, mostly from among the poor, suffered due to this discriminatory legislation. The number of females sent to prisons under the Hudood ordinances is unprecedented in the history of the country. Thus the repeal of this law had been a longstanding demand of civil society organisations, they added.

The rally was organised by Women’s Action Forum, Pattan Development Organisation, Aurat Foundation, Actionaid Pakistan, Sungi Development Foundation, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Rozan, The Network for Consumer Protection, Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy, Bedari, Progressive Women Association, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Christian Study Centre, Sachet, Lok Sanjh Foundation, Alliance for Protection of Human Rights, Citizens Action Committee, Joint Action Committee Lahore, Human Rights Volunteers, Society for Alternative Media and Research, Community Development Organisation Swabi, HRMDC Peshawar, Cavish Development Organisation, SACH, Citizens Peace Committee, Pakistan Social Forum, People Rights Movement, Women Councillors Network.