Women protest all discriminatory laws


To celebrate the National Women’s Day that marks the struggle of women against a series of ‘anti-women’ laws passed by the former dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, women’s rights activists staged a protest demonstration on Sunday to express their resolve that women would continue to resist every act of the state against women’s rights and would never accept anything less than equal rights in all spheres of life – legal, social, cultural and economic. The gathering was attended by scores of prominent human rights and women rights activists belonging to various institutions and civil society. It was organised by Coalition for Citizen’s Rights, Pattern Development Organisation, Women Councilors Network, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFIN), Gender Studies Center and Women Action Forum (WAF).
It was on February 12, 1983, after the addition of Section 144 that women defied the ban on public assembly and conducted a march towards the Lahore High Court wherein Woman Action Forum (WAF) members participated in the protest against Zia’s Law of Evidence. The march was the first public demonstration by any group against a martial law. It was for the first time in the history of Pakistan that police used tear gas and batons on women that left many of them injured while 50 women were arrested as well.
It was to highlight this momentous day that several activists and government officials gathered at Super Market.
While speaking on the occasion, Ex-MNA Marvi Memon credited the present government for overwhelming legislation for safeguarding women’s rights and their empowerment.
However, she said: “Owing to absence of comprehensive implementation mechanism and lack of political will to curb the malicious practice, a number of human rights violations and subversion of women’s rights in the name of Karo-Kari, Watta-Satta and Wanni are still pervasive in our society.” The incumbent government was itself responsible for the persistent imbalance in society, she blamed.
She said all existing platforms would be called forth to uplift the women’s rights and ensure their dignity in the society.
Eminent activist Farzana Bari called upon the incumbent government to take immediate steps to repeal all discriminatory laws against women – Hudood Ordinance, Qisas and Diyat, Law of Evidence and all such other laws without further delay.
She added: “We condemn the fact that after more than three decades, despite women’s consistent demands for repealing all discriminatory legislation passed by the Zia’s regime in the name of Islam, no successive government had shown the courage to act on behalf of women. The discriminatory laws introduced in the name of Islam not only distort the true spirit of our religion but also bring shame to us as a nation.”
Dr Hassan Nasir of Awami Party Pakistan said the day was commemorated to renew the commitment of women for the emancipation of their rights.
He said: ‘The women folk are victim of dual oppression in our society – economic and gender exploitation.”
He urged the civil society to launch a civilised movement to foster consciousness among the people about women’s rights and end all injustices inflicted upon them.
Minority rights activist, Julius Salik said: “It is 63 years since the birth of Pakistan that all segments of society are fighting for their rights including women community. It is irony that successive governments have shown apathetic attitude towards the issues of social protection and guarantees for the rights of common citizenry.”