Posts Tagged ‘activism.’

ASF And 16 Days Of Activism Against VAWG

November 30th, 2012

Press notice for Pakistan media

Friday 30 November 2012

16 days of activism to end VAWG (Violence against Women and Girls)

Safety at Home, Public and Work Spaces

This year, to mark the 16 days of activism against VAWG in Pakistan, the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF-Pakistan) has called on Pakistani policy makers to do more to speed up the passage of the “Comprehensive Acid And Burn Crime Bill” in the provincial assemblies.

Although the comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill is currently being processed in KP, Punjab and ICT, no provincial assembly had tabled this comprehensive acid and burn legislation yet.

Last year (12th December 2011) ASF-Pakistan, with support from the UK’s Department for International Development, led a campaign which resulted in the unanimous passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011.

The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011 made acid and burn violence a crime against the state and imposed fine worth ‘One Million’ Pakistani rupees, along with a punishment of minimum seven (7) years to life time imprisonment.

The legal milestone was widely welcomed but campaigners say it does not go far enough to eradicate acid violence, arguing that legislation needs to go further to include the trial and rehabilitation process. There is also concern that a lack of monitoring mechanisms will jeopardise effective implementation of the law.

Over the last seven months, ASF have been pushing provincial assemblies to pass the ‘Comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill’ to strengthen pro women legislation to curb violence against women.

During this16 days of activism, ASF will remind policy makers at the “Safety at Home, Public and Work Spaces” event, that the results of past efforts to stop acid violence are not enough andthat survivors – mostly women and girls should be able to fully exercise their basic human rights.

The “Safety at Home, Public and Work Spaces” event hosted jointly by UK aid and the AWAAZ consortium, with support of the EVAWG alliance, IHI (InsaanHaqoodItehad), the ‘We Can’ Campaign, UN Women and the UNDP will take place on 6th December.

The event is anticipated to have theatre performances and interfaces with parliamentarians, media, students and above all survivors of violence will call on the Government of Pakistan to devise a common strategy to enhance safety for women and girls in the country.

Acid survivors turned into ‘agents of change’ will be given an opportunity to raise their voice and demand protection, safety and peace. The message they will deliver this event is “our work has just started!”

The UK Government is supporting Pakistan to empower women and girls, to end violence against them, and help Pakistan harness the talent, productivity, and economic dividend of half its population.

Recently (Wednesday) the UK Government launched a new initiative to help prevent violence against women and girls living around the world.UK’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

“It is shocking and unacceptable that in the 21st century one in three women is still beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. This matters for development: girls who experience violence are less likely to complete their education, find it harder to earn a living, and have a significantly higher risk of maternal death and vulnerability to HIV and AIDS.

“The UK is leading the international community to prevent violence against women and is working to get a better understanding of what works on the ground so we can stop it for good.”

Priorities for the UK aid for women and girls in Pakistan over the next few years include supporting more girls in school; tackling all types of violence against women, including domestic violence and honour killings; enabling more women to vote in elections; support women’s political engagement at all levels; supporting women to be trained in new skills; and helping women access financial services such as micro-loans;

Till date, acid attacks are spreading quantitatively and geographically in Pakistan; In year 2009, 43 attack cases were reported to ASF notification unit, 55 cases in 2010, 150 cases in 2011, this year 93 cases. More attacks are to be reported as many victims feel reprisal and therefore remain silent. The conviction rate for acid violence remains very low: 6% as per ASF data.

Media enquiries

Notes to editors

  • TheDepartment for International Development (DFID) is the UK’s Government department responsible for promoting sustainable development and reducing poverty. The central focus of DFID is a commitment to the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. Further information here

The Acid Survivors Foundation – Pakistan is a Pakistani non for profit organization that aims at eradicating acid violence -one of the worst forms of gender based violence- in the country. It was established in 2006 and registered under Voluntary Social Welfare Ordinance, it has been partnering with UK Aid since 2009. Further information available on; Facebook:

Declaration For 365 Days Of Activism Against VAW

February 20th, 2012
Declaration on Improving the Criminal Justice System Combating Violence Against Women

Launched on 8th December 2011 as part of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women and valid till date.

We recognize and appreciate the role of Government of Pakistan in important policy and legislative measures such as the passage and implementation of anti sexual harassment laws and the recent Prevention of Anti Women Practices Bill 2011, and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2011, passed in the National Assembly and Senate. However the Criminal Justice System in Pakistan carries a great trust deficit for the marginalized sections of society including women, religious minorities and labor organizations. Violence Against Women cannot be eliminated fully unless the criminal justice system in Pakistan is made accessible, unbiased and effective for dealing with cases of violence reported by women.
We the concerned citizens of Pakistan, women’s rights activists and representatives of civil society organizations jointly present the following declaration to make the Criminal Justice System more effective in eliminating violence against women.

  • We demand a criminal justice system that is supportive and sensitive to cases of violence against women. With regard to accessing justice for women in Pakistan it cannot remain only confined to access to courts or tribunals but justice should entail ensuring legal and judicial outcomes are just, transparent and equitable.
  • All laws pertaining to violence against women approved by the Government need to be implemented through a coordinated response, the law enforcing agencies are generally unaware of the laws,  we demand that the lawyers, police and judiciary members are briefed about the laws and a process of accountability mechanism  set up  to report every quarter on how cases are dealt at the district, provincial and national levels
  • We are deeply concerned about the crimes of domestic violence and acid violence committed on women, we call upon the Government for immediate legislations against Domestic Violence and a comprehensive legislation against Acid Violence that criminalize such heinous acts and provide justice, protection and rehabilitation services to survivors fighting their cases.
  • There have been concerns and complains from the police personnel especially at the Tehsil levels  of lack of basic facilities such as, official transport, food, housing, low salaries, long working hours , personal expenditures on food, accommodation, uniform and transport which has created  de-motivation in police to register complaints or deal with the law and order situation. We demand that the police stations be equipped with proper facilities to enable and empower police officers to conduct their duty in dealing with crimes of violence.
  • We demand effective police reforms for reporting, investigations, independent and neutral prosecution mechanisms and an unbiased judiciary that is committed to uphold justice at the districts, provincial and national levels.
  • Recognizing the right and equality to justice for all, cases of violence especially in rural and tribal areas should be dealt through proper courts and not referred to Jirga Systems (parallel judiciary system). We call upon the State to abolish such local power structures/systems that promote anti women judgements and discrimination.
  • Legislation for women by the Government should recognize the principles of equality and rights specified in the constitution and the international commitments to which the State is signatory and not be based on any biases, discrimination or patriarchal beliefs or values.
  • We are concerned that some of the laws that protect women from violence approved by the National assembly are either not taken up in the senate or lapsed within the 90 days of the specified time period. We call upon the Government that laws that lapsed in the past are reinstated and now follow the friendlier process applicable.
  • We call upon the civil society to build strong alliances/networks and strategies of advocacy to support survivors fighting for justice  against all forms of violence against women and to draw from good practices at national, regional and international levels on effective justice mechanisms.
Endorsed by Organizations and Human Rights Activists

‘Acid Survivors Foundation, Insan Foundation Trust,  Pattan Development Organization, Women’s Organization for Rights & Development (WORD), Cavish Development Organization, Mehergarh Learning Centre, Nomad Art Gallery, SEHER, Blue Veins, Shirkatgah, Rutgerswpf, Human Rights Commission for Social Justice & Peace Baluchistan, Rozan, Aurat Foundation, Asar Institution of Woman’s Study Centre Lahore, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, UKS Research Center, Bedari,  Peace Education And Development (PEAD) Foundation Alph  Consultants & Advocates, Sahil, Strengthening Participatory  Organization, Center for Peace & Development Initiatives, GIZ Pakistan (Gender Responsive Policing Project), DFID, Working Woman Organization, SHAD (Seeking Honor & Dignity), Al-Asar  Development Organization, Creativeangerrakhshi, Sachet Pakistan, Grassroot in Action, Today’s Women Organization Baluchistan, Rural Supports Programmes Network, Amal Human Development Network, Citizen’s Rights & sustainable Development, Woman’s Association Struggle for Development, Natpow (National Trust for Population Welfare, Peace & Development Organization, Pakistan Rural Development  Program, SPARC, Pattan Lok Natak, Care International, Sister Trust, Women’s concern Network, Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights , Infochange Pakistan, Shirakat, Integrated Community Development Initiative, Progressive Women’s Association, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Taangh Wasaib Organization, National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), All Pakistan Women’s Association (APWA), Idara Baraye Taleem –o- Taraqi (IBT) Bahrain Swat and Ending Violence Against Women Alliance Islamabad

Dr. Farzana Bari Women’s Rights Activist, Dr. Zarina Salamat Peace Activist, Ms.Rabia Aslam Researcher/Activist, Ms Nasreen Azhar Women’s Rights Activist/WAF Member, Ms. Rukhsana Rashid Gender Expert, Ms. Shazreh Bano Gender Expert, Ms. Anbreen Ajaib Women’s Rights Activist.

Implementation Of Step 1: A Priority!

January 23rd, 2012
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Women’s rights: Activists, experts discuss effect of political instability on legislation

Published: January 19, 2012

Following devolution to provinces, progress made for the cause appears to have been reset. ILLUSTRATION: SAMAD SIDDIQUI

LAHORE: In a country as politically unstable as Pakistan, women’s rights activists and experts say, adoption of legislation to protect women is only a first step towards the long struggle that lies ahead for empowering women.

“Passage of the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 is just the first step and should be taken as just that, because devolution [under the 18th amendment] has left much to be desired in terms of implementation,” Valerie Khan, chairperson of the Acid Survivors Foundation, told a seminar on gender-sensitive legislation held in Lahore on Thursday.

Khan was a panellist at the seminar organised by NGOs Mumkin Alliance, an umbrella organisation of 16 member groups working against violence against women, in collaboration with South Asia Partnership – Pakistan. Representatives from across Punjab participated in the event.

Participants agreed that determining a mechanism to effectively implement a law’s provisions, particularly at the grassroots, is the biggest challenge in the fight against gender-based violence. Police behaviour and indifference of society towards violence against women were termed as other obstacles by grass roots activists and political workers.

“An implementation mechanism is not clearly determined when legislation is prepared and that is the one link which can help bridge the gap between law and its implementation,” said Salman Abid, regional director of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation. He said legislation on the issue had been regularly taking place but attitudes had remained entrenched. “The ‘woman question’ needs to be internalised and the matter needs to be taken up as a national cause rather than as a question of gender only.”

Greater female representation in parliament was termed a positive development, but absence of support at the grassroots level was identified as a hurdle.

“The presence of women parliamentarians has been a driving force behind gender-sensitive legislation,” said Mumtaz Mughal of the Aurat Foundation, citing research conducted by her organisation. “However, following devolution [of the subject of women’s rights] to provinces, delays have occurred in creating gender-sensitivity among relevant departments.”

Mughal used Punjab as an example where constant shuffled in bureaucracy have led to inordinate delays in the passage of a bill on domestic violence, which has been drafted and tabled in the Punjab Assembly. “The bill will protect vulnerable individuals, regardless of gender.”

“The Punjab government is committed to passing bills on violence against women, primary of these being the bill on domestic violence against women,” said Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, an adviser to the Punjab chief minister, who was the chief guest.

A consensus appeared among all participants on the significance of local bodies to ensuring implementation at the grassroots level.

“The Punjab government should appoint a woman provincial ombudsman who is authorised to receive complaints on violence against women,” suggested Justice (retd) Nasira Iqbal.

“Men have to help create a space where the debate for accepting women can be generated,” said Bushra Khaliq of the Wise. “A girl, from the moment she steps out of her house to acquire an education and throughout her career, struggles against obstacles put up by society.”

Violence appears to be acceptable behaviour in Pakistan, said executive director of SAP-Pakistan Muhammad Tehseen Shah.

Grassroots activists raised the question of a lack of awareness about legislation among the activists themselves. Workers from women wings of various political parties, namely Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, participated in the seminar as well and criticised the ineffective implementation of laws.

An Article From The Express Tribune…

June 7th, 2010

    Rebuilding shattered lives

    By Maha Mussadaq
    June 05, 2010

    ISLAMABAD: When Valerie Khan Yusufzai came to Pakistan in 1996, she had no idea that she would be setting up an organisation dedicated to changing the lives of acid victims in the country.

    With her husband, Mohammad Yusufzai, she moved first to Swabi and then to Islamabad.

    “My family was not worried about me marrying a Pakistani man; they were more worried about me moving to Pakistan,” said Valerie.

    She grew up in a strict environment with strong values in France. “So moving to NWFP actually felt like home,” she said.

    A French literature graduate, she taught French for 12 years in Islamabad. But in 2005, Valerie’s mission began, when she first learnt about acid violence in Pakistan.

    “I was not aware of the phenomenon [of acid violence] until I saw a victim at the beauty parlour. Seeing her disfigurement from a woman’s perspective, there was a strong instinctive force inside me that pushed me to help her,” she said.

    Valerie helped the woman as much as she could, until financial and administration issues surfaced and she could not continue.

    But it seemed Valerie had found her calling. With the support of family and friends, she turned her humanitarian efforts into a more formal organisation and the Acid Survivors Foundation was registered in 2007, with Valerie as Chairperson and her husband as Executive Director.

    Since January 2007, 87 patients have registered with the organisation.

    “Now we are facing financial issues, not because more cases have started occurring, but because more are being reported,” she said.

    Victims can get free surgery at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad and Benazir Bhutto Hospital in Rawalpindi but these hospitals are already overburdened with patients.

    Valerie feels that, even more than hospital burn centres, “The government needs to provide us with area to build Nursing Rehabilitation Units.”

    These units will provide comprehensive rehabilitation services, medical and surgical nursing care, physiotherapy and psychotherapy as well as socioeconomic services.

    “The rehabilitation is not just physical; the real work is to rebuild their shattered confidence and help them face the world again,” Valerie said.

    At present, the patients are kept at a nursing care rehabilitation unit in Sector I-10.

    “None of the victims will ever be exactly the same. We are not magicians, we are just social workers trying to make a difference,” she said.

    Valerie said there was no support from the government in terms of funds because they did not trust local NGOs. “The government should double check the credibility of NGOs by checking their receipts, bank statements, legal documents. If this is done, the corrupt ones will be identified,” she said.

    “The Acid Crime and Protection Bill was tabled in the National Assembly in December 2009 and much more work needs to be done to get it implemented,” she said.

    The number of acid violence incidents increased in the last eights years, with 10 in 2002 and almost 50 in 2008, according to statistics from the Acid Survivor Foundation collected between 1991 and 2008.

    The reason behind almost half of all reported cases, is family disputes, and 90 percent of the cases are reported in Punjab. Of all cases reported between 1991 and 2009, 61 percent of victims were female and 39 percent were male.

    Valerie said her mission would continue as long as she lives. “We do thank God for what we are blessed with but every now and then there is a feeling within us that we must achieve more.”

    “Do not believe you are doing something big because there are many exceptional people out there making a difference. One must always remain humble,” Valerie said.

    Published in the Express Tribune, June 5th, 2010.

    Reader Comments

    Comments (3)
    • jamal shahid

      20 hours ago

      biggest fan .. like totally

    • zahra

      12 hours ago

      Love the story I follow ur stories everyday…keep it up!!! you are a brilliant journalist….


    • Hassan Durrani

      11 hours ago

      Nice Article … For Sure

Acid Survivors Foundation : On The Media Road Again!

January 12th, 2010
Tauseeq Haider asking questions to Valerie Khan Yusufzai about ASF work

Tauseeq Haider asking questions to Valerie Khan Yusufzai about ASF work

Valerie Khan Yusufzai, ready to explain ASF work and goals.

Valerie Khan Yusufzai, ready to explain ASF work and goals.

Nadeem Mehmood, GJP project manager, presenting UNDP GJP project and the cahllenges faced.

Nadeem Mehmood, GJP project manager, presenting UNDP GJP project and the challenges faced.

Dr Khadija, ASF psychotherapist and Nazeeran ready to fight for the cause!

Dr Khadija, ASF psychotherapist and Nazeeran ready to fight for the cause!