By Hamid Khan Wazir
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen M. Mazari has revealed that the Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) is monitoring acid crimes in collaboration with a partner organization and a drastic 50% reduction in acid crimes has been witnessed.
Replying to a written question by Romina Khurshid Alam in the National Assembly, the minister stated that the government of Pakistan is committed to ensure protection and promotion of Human Rights with special focus on the Rights of Women and Girls in line with its national and international obligations.
Besides, she said that the Constitution of Pakistan (Article 8-28) and Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the key laws include the Criminal Law (Offences relating to Rape) Act 2016, Criminal Law (Offences relating to Honor Killing) Act 2016, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2016 (Child Protection), National Commission on the Rights of the Child Act 2017, Hindu Marriage Act 2017, Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, The National Commission on the Status of Women (Amendment) Act 2018 and The ICT Child Protection Act 2018.
The Government is taking appropriate measures to ensure the implementation of all these laws in letter and spirit. Besides the Federal Ministry of Human Rights and Provincial Women Development Departments, the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Provincial Commissions on the Status of Women (PCSWs) are working for protection and promotion of women rights in collaboration with the relevant Departments, she added.
Mazari said that as per its mandate, the scope of the NCSW encompasses a review of federal laws, rules, and regulations affecting the status and rights of women, and to suggest repeal, amendment or new legislation.
Direct implementation of the laws is not the mandate of the NCSW as women related laws and their implementation is a devolved subject after the 18th Constitutional Amendment. However, the NCSW has the mandate to assess the implementation of policies, programs and other measures for gender equality and make recommendations to the Federal Government and at the national level. The NCSW has been engaged in a review of laws and assessment of the implementation of laws related to women in collaboration with provincial Commissions under provincial laws and Non-Government Organizations. (b) Ministry of Human Rights has conducted a Research Study on Legal Framework of Human Rights in Pakistan, with a view to harmonize women related laws to CEDAW and the Constitution. Besides, the NCSW has also conducted a research study and published it as “Access to justice for victims of sexual assault” under the Women Protection Act 2006, the minister added.
“The report is an in-depth analysis of randomly selected rape cases tried in Lahore High Court and Islamabad High Court. Moreover, the Commission is monitoring acid crimes in collaboration with a partner organization. There has been a 50% reduction in acid crimes and the amended Acid Crime law (2011) is being implemented effectively, she revealed.
Similarly, after the enactment of the Cyber Crime Act, 2016 NCSW is monitoring the implementation of this law, especially where women are victims. It is closely following one of the first court cases under the law to identify problems in the process of implementation.
She said that the NCSW organized a national Round Table Consultation on September 26, 2019 to review the Protection against Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 which was attended by the Ombudspersons, parliamentarians, lawyers and CSOs. This discussion was organized to identify the gaps and challenges in the law and its implementation from the perspective of Harassment Ombudspersons as implementers and of those seeking redressal. It concluded with workable those seeking redressal. It concluded with workable recommendations to address the issues in this regard.
(c) The steps taken/ being taken by the government to ensure implementation of women-specific laws in letter and spirit are as under:
- The Ministry of Human Rights regularly coordinates with relevant Departments/ Organizations to address women related issues. As per law, all cases involving the violation of women rights are taken up as a regular feature.
- 12 exclusive trainings on women-specific laws were organized by the Ministry of Human rights for prosecutors, lawyers, and other relevant officials during 2017.
- The Ministry of Human Rights has launched a Toll-Free HelpLine 1099 for legal advice on human rights violations. This initiative has especially been designed to facilitate women’s access to justice under certain laws. Trained lawyers have been deputed to respond to all such cases online and free of cost.
- The Ministry of Human Rights has launched a media campaign with regard to the inheritance of women.
- To challenge the impunity of the informal parallel justice system in the country, NCSW filed a petition in the year 2012 before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. A general declaration with regard to the legality of this informal system was sought with the pray to declare it illegal and ultra vires of the Constitution and its provisions ensuring the dignity, life, and liberty of a human. Also, the decisions and proceedings of these bodies to be declared as null and void lacking any judicial. NCSW pursued the case vigorously since 2012, which was decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) in January 2019 • The MoHR has launched a campaign focusing on Women’s Rights particularly to their inheritance and child rights including rights of girls. In this regard, messages from the Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology Dr. Qibla Ayaz are being disseminated through electronic media.