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Repeal of Hudood laws demanded

March 09, 2007

ISLAMABAD, March 8: Hundreds of women took part in a flambeau -wielding walk here on Thursday, demanding complete repeal of Hudood Ordinances and ban on all parallel judicial systems.

The unique show organized by Human Rights Network started from China Chowk and culminated at Constitution Avenue close to the parliament house where a street theatre highlighting the importance of educating women was presented by drama society of Quad-i-Azam University.

The representatives of various civil society organizations who participated in the march showed solidarity with the women victims of violence and reaffirmed their commitment to carry forward the peaceful struggle for women’s rights and freedom, as enshrined in the original 1973 Constitution.

They demanded a complete repeal of the Hudood Ordinances (1979), especially the Zina Ordinance, in light of the recommendations of the Pakistan National Commission on the Status of Women (2003). They said Women’s Protection Act (WPA 2006) was only one part of the recommendations.

They also called for a complete repeal of the Qanun-e-Shahadat as committed by the government and abolition of the Qisas and Diyat provisions in the laws, which, they observed, if not done, would make a mockery of the 2005 law intended to eliminate so-called “honour” killings.

They sought an explicit recognition by the government of the alarming increase in violent crimes against women — both public and domestic — followed by strong and effective measures at the legislative, administrative and judicial levels to provide security to the women.

They regretted that there were concerted moves to target those women politicians who work for women’s rights and empowerment, irrespective of their political affiliations. They said the recent heinous murder of a woman minister of the Punjab, attempt on life of a woman MNA of the PPP, and an attack on another PPP woman politician were clear examples of this.

They called for strong administrative and judicial actions, in order to provide protection to women activists and to deter any similar incidents in the forthcoming general elections.

They called for a complete ban on all parallel judicial systems including punchayats and jirgas, in line with the judgements of the Superior Courts. They were of the view that in order to start enforcing the law of the land and the writ of the government in all geographic regions of Pakistan, there should be a complete ban on all anti-women organizations which were working against girls’ education and women’s participation in political or economic activities, especially in the NWFP.

They stressed the need for promotion of an environment and atmosphere of zero tolerance for violence, lawlessness, religious extremism and sectarianism, in order to foster peace, tolerance, religious and sectarian harmony, democracy, pluralism, equality and access to justice for all.

The participating organizations included ActionAid, Aurat Foundation, Bedari, Christian Study Centre, HRCP, Nomad, Oxfam, Pattan, PWA, Rozan, Sach, SDPI, Sungi and Women’s Action Forum.

An old man Abdul Ghaffar, whose son Abdul Sattar had allegedly been picked up by agencies also joined the walk.

The participants of the walk were carrying banners and posters inscribed with slogans like “honour killing be declared as murder”, “a free race cannot be born of slave mothers”, “violence begets violence”, “discriminatory laws against women unacceptable”, “end violence against women” and “empowering women, empowering society”.

Linking women’s rights with restoration of democracy they chanted full-throat slogans against the army, urging it to go back to barracks.