ISLAMABAD, Nov 15: Women rights activists and representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) on Wednesday held a protest demonstration outside the Parliament House to denounce the government’s new position on the Women’s Protection Bill and demanded total repeal of Hudood laws.

Representatives of various organisations, including the 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Organisation and Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy, were of the view that the Hudood Ordinances should be repealed in line with the recommendations of the statutory National Commission on the Status of Women.

The demonstration was arranged by the CSOs on the day the parliament took up the controversial Women Protection Bill seeking amendment to Hudood laws.

The protesters, however, rejected the bill, particularly amendments introduced at the behest of the religious parties.

According to a press release, the protesters said the government had succumbed to the pressure of ‘Mullahs’ by accepting their amendments, which would further water down the already flawed text earlier put forward by the National Assembly Select Committee.

Holding placards inscribed with demands for the repeal of Hudood Ordinances and condemning the MMA for undermining human rights in the name of religion, the protesters said the Women Protection Bill would not bring any relief to women. In fact, they said, the “Mullah-recommended” amendments would further worsen the rights situation in the country, leaving women at the mercy of police and judiciary.

The rally demanded that the government should not engage in politicking in the name of women rights and should not make compromises that might hurt women who were already socially, economically and politically vulnerable and weak.

“We strongly demand of the government and all political forces who proclaim themselves as champions of women rights to prove their sincerity now by resisting the Mullahs from further consolidating their political space through an anti-women agenda,” they said.