Women, children and transgender community in Pakistan have faced formidable challenges in their efforts to achieve gender equality and address gender-based violence, with particular problems posed by elements among customary norms and practices to explore the issue. The speakers said this while addressing All Parties’ Conference, organized by ‘Provincial Alliance to End Early Child and Forced Marriages’.
In joint session, political party representatives, civil society activists and media representatives analyzed the challenges to the engender legislation and its implementation failure. The participants discussed that the current provincial govt has failed to bring any right-based legislations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Because of the poor will of the govt departments and opposition from religious political parties and Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill, Child Marriage Restrain Amendment Bill and Acid Crime Bill are still pending without any significant progress.
The political party representatives shared that the legislature was generally not opposed to legislating good laws but they felt frightened because of the prevailing political climate of intolerance and impunity and they needed civil society support.
The civil society activists emphasized that Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) was never supposed to be a permanent body. It was supposed to give its final report within seven years of its appointment. That final report was presented in December 1996 and as such there was no constitutional imperative to continue with the body anymore. The body’s recommendations only added to the miseries of women, children, transgender community and other vulnerable groups, instead of providing any relief to them, adding that CII members appeared to be unaware of legislating in a modern age and ‘anti-women’ stance of the CII permitted violence against women and had contributed to an increase in violence.
The participants of the conference concluded that right-based laws would be better followed if mindsets and stereotypes are changed to better reflect equality and non-discrimination and it was joint responsibility of NHRIs, civil society organizations and legislators to develop advocacy strategies and hold dialogues with parties holding reservations, to foster greater understanding on the need for change and ensure that draft legislation was in line with best practice and international standards and at the same time to train those involved, and to monitor it, once passed.
Qamar Naseem, Focal Point of the Provincial Alliance to End Early, Child and Forced Marriages said, ‘Though there has been growth in popular feminism over the past few decades, it has faced numerous setbacks, including the unwillingness of the patriarchal state government to implement change without serious pressure to do so, and an equivalent unwillingness to enforce new laws once they are put into force’.
Taimur Kamal. Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network “Gender inequalities hinder development. While dis- parities in basic rights; in schooling, credit, and jobs; or in the ability to participate in public life take their most direct toll on cis gender women and transgender women, the full costs of gender inequality ultimately harm everyone”
Maulana Tayab a well known religious scholar from Peshawar and prayer leader at Mohabat Khan said that it was essential to mobilize the power of faith to empower communists. ‘We need to encounter the wrong and dark interpretation of Islam. Islam is for peace and it does not deprive people of their due rights’.
Political party representatives from ANP, ANP Wali, PPP, PTI, Awami Workers Party, Qaumi Watan Party, PMLQ, National Party and Ulasi Threek participated in the event.