Saturday, July 02, 2011
The representatives of mainstream civil society organisations working for women rights in Pakistan and human right activists have challenged the findings of Thompson Reuters Foundation’s report, which has ranked Pakistan as world’s third most dangerous country for women.
In a meeting organised by the National Commission of Women (NCW) and UN Women EVAW Alliance, the women rights activists expressed serious reservations over the method adopted by the organisation Thompson Reuters Foundation to conduct the study.
They said that it was technically a bad study that has based its analysis over the opinion of only 213 experts. The report declares Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia as world’s five most dangerous countries for women. It says that Pakistani women experience the highest risk factor in the category of culture, tribal traditions and religion.
Sameena Nazir from Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA) said that the research fails to fulfil some of the basic criterion of social science research. “On the basis of my worldwide research, I can take the name of many countries that have worst record than Pakistan,” she added.
She said that Pakistan has a free media, which reports the cases of violence against women more frequently than any other country in the world. “That does not mean that Pakistan becomes one of the most dangerous countries for women in the world,” she opined. Eminent human rights activist, Tahira Abdullah, said that the findings were based on the perception of 213 experts rather than facts. She said that Pakistani civil society, government and its people are continuously fighting with the issues related to culture, tribal traditions and religion. “Women rights movement is an indigenous movement in Pakistan and we consider the issues related to culture, tribal traditions and religion as an internal matter of our country,” she added.
She said that concerns can be raised on international level over any research that is based on the study of 180 million population of the country. “Only 213 experts can not declare any other country a dangerous one for women only on the basis of their perception. We simply reject this report,” she added.
Executive Director Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) Valerie Khan raised objection against the language used for the report title. “The word ‘dangerous’ is not an appropriate word for a scientific study. At least, the title should include ‘perceived dangerous’ instead of dangerous as the report is based on the opinion of a selected group of people,” she said.
Among 213 experts, 85 per cent ranked Pakistan highest in acid attacks on women, 93 per cent of experts believed that Pakistan has highest number of forced marriages in the world where as 82 per cent opined that Pakistan has the highest risk of girl child marriages. Interestingly, 100 per cent voted for lack of access to health for women in Pakistan and 92 per cent believed that Pakistani women suffer domestic physical and mental abuse.
The meeting also decided that NCW will file appeal in the Supreme Court to demolish parallel legal system in the country. Some members opined that instead of completely demolishing, the parallel legal systems should be brought under some legal framework binding them to only conflict resolution.
The EVAW members also decided to write letters to the prime minister and the president requesting them to play their role for constituting larger bench in the Supreme Court for Mukhtaran Mai case. Mukhtaran Mai was also present in the meeting.
The EVAW Alliance was launched by UN Women in 2007 to mark 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. The alliance currently comprises representatives of women’s organisations, NGOs, networks, donors, UN agencies, international NGOs, government, media and academia. Future plans include expanding the network to the provincial and district level with the support of organisations having provincial and district outreach.