Censorship not a woman’s job in Rafiq Engineer’s book

What has a woman got to do with censorship?” was the response of Sindh Katchi Abadis and Spatial Development Minister Rafiq Engineer, when another lawmaker suggested that women should also be given representation in a film censorship board.
As the provincial lawmakers discussed the pros and cons of the ‘Sindh Motion Pictures Bill 2012’ – passed by the Sindh Assembly on Monday – the issue of women representation in a censor board caught many of them off guard.
In its first session of 2012, the House passed the motion pictures bill that will allow the provincial government to authorise censorship, permission of film exhibition and quality of the films produced.
After the adoption of 18th Constitutional Amendment, the department was shifted from the centre to the provinces, but there was no legislation in this regard in Sindh.
Speaking on the occasion, Sindh Culture Minister Sassui Palijo and Law Minister Ayaz Soomro said that after the 18th amendment, the provinces were empowered for censorship and exhibition of films.
“It is obvious that the Pakistani film industry has been the worst-affected due to extremism in the country,” Palijo said. “It is our desire that rules of procedure about censorship should be of international standards.”
Affirming that international censorship standards must be followed, Moin Prizada said that these rules must not be against social and cultural values of Pakistan. “A policy must be made regarding Indian movies being exhibited in Sindh,” he added.
Nusrat Saher Abbasi said that priority in the cinemas should be given to Pakistani films to give a boost to the local film industry.
Regarding the formation of a provincial film censorship board, MPA Bilqees Mukhtar suggested that women should be given representation and a role in the board also.
Objecting to the suggestion however, Engineer was of the view that women have nothing to do with film censorship.
Palijo opposed the PPP leader’s views, saying the provincial minister must not express his personal views.
In the session, the ombudsman office bill was introduced while the Sindh Sales Tax on Service (Amendment) Bill 2011 was postponed until January 6.
Speaking during the question-answer session, Soomro told the House that during the PPP government not a single person was hanged nor will it happen in the future. “There is not a single political prisoner in the jails of Sindh.”
“Till today, our party and the people of Pakistan cannot forget the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” he added.
“There are 79 female prisoners in women jails, including one involved in the PNS Mehran attack, and only seven female wardens, which is not sufficient,” the law minister said, admitting that crime rate has increased due to use of mobile phones within prisons.
“To control the situation, the government has established public calling offices within jails and all prisoners can speak with their relatives and friends for 15 minutes a week,” Soomro said.