Posts Tagged ‘Aid’
From Print Edition
From 2007 to 2013, around 949 cases of acid attacks have been reported in the country. Among the total number, 519 were women whereas majority of cases (589) were reported from Punjab region.
The statistics were shared by the Chairperson Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) Valerie Khan at the launch a report titled ‘Fostering Effective Implementation of Pro Human Rights Laws: Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011 (Act XXV), An Example of Good Practice.’ Valerie said that from January till March 2014, 40 cases of acid attacks have been reported in the country.
The report presents the efforts Pakistani government and civil society in improving the implementation of the above mentioned law. The event was organised by ASF in collaboration with National Commission on the Status of Women and Australian Aid.
The report highlighted that acid attacks reporting had increased (110 attacks in 2012 and 143 in 2013) which shows an encouraging trend to further break the silence and denounce violence against women and girls.
Additionally, the report insisted on the fact that police had made tremendous efforts to register due and correct FIRs under the new laws passed on December 12, 2011 when it faced acid attack cases. While only 1 per cent of the FIRs were registered under the correct law in 2012, 71 per cent of the FIRs registered in 2013 were under the new and correct law. The report mentions that many survivors still do not have sufficient or adequate access to medical and rehabilitation services, 65 per cent of the victims still could not access justice in 2013 and national consolidated data is still required.
Marvi Memon, the Chief Guest, declared that since 2010, Pakistan had come long way and she insisted that those improvements needed to be celebrated, but she also indicated that there was still a long way to go. She stressed that the “Comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill” must be passed.
“Now there is sufficient momentum to support this bill, and we owe it to other survivors, we will continue the fight,” she said.
The event was attended by various stakeholders from different areas in Pakistan and it included law enforcement agencies representatives, lawyers, doctors, survivors, members of civil society media, acid survivors themselves.
The panel discussion after the report launch was chaired by Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women Khawar Mumtaz. Kishwar Zehra, MNA from MQM, was also amongst the panelists in addition to Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Peter Hayward and Chairperson ASF Valerie Khan Yusufzai.
All participants underlined the need to create awareness in order to challenge discriminatory and patriarchal mindsets, as well as transfer knowledge to achieve positive results in fostering law implementation. They were informed that judges now tend to punish far more severely in case of acid attack. before 2011, the average conviction was 6 to 10 years, now it is generally at least 20 years. It was shared that in general, convictions were more severe since 2012, and judiciary was trying to ensure trials in a shorter timeframe to provide relief to survivors since 2013.
Chairperson NCSW Khawar Mumtaz termed it encouraging that more reporting occurred but she also insisted the need to work on data and build up synergies to face the remaining challenges.
Valerie Khan called upon the government to lead the way and pass the Comprehensive Acid and Burn Crime Bill that Marvi Memon has tabled in the Parliamentary Committee of Law and Justice last week. “We are ready to provide technical help to review the comprehensive bill, but it is urgent that the federal and provincial governments ensure stronger protection to Pakistani citizens. Pakistani has inspired many other countries to address acid violence such as Columbia and India but positive steps such as establishing burn centers and social rehabilitation centers, or medical boards must be part of a legislative framework to be sustained and institutionalized.”
Australian High Commissioner Peter Hayward congratulated all stakeholders for those improvements and reiterated Australia’s commitment to support ASF action.
Awards were later on distributed to police, lawyers and doctors from all over the country, what ASF called, the true heroes.
11 December 2012
Australia supports Human Rights NGOs in Pakistan
To mark International Human Rights Day, Australian High Commissioner Peter Heyward announced major human rights funding grants to the Acid Survivors Foundation and the Jinnah Institute under Australia’s Human Rights Grants Scheme.
Both groups will receive A$100,000 (PKR10 million) towards their important projects.
Australia supports civil society organisations and human rights institutions in 126 countries including Pakistan through the Human Rights Grants Scheme. In Pakistan, past projects supported by the scheme include interfaith harmony, enhanced religious understanding, child rights and awareness about forced marriages.
Mr Heyward commended the excellent work of the Acid Survivors Foundation and the Jinnah Institute in the field of human rights.
“These organisations are a testament to the vibrancy of civil society in Pakistan and I particularly admire the dedication these groups have to eliminating violence against women and promoting strong human rights principles throughout the country and the region.”
He said the Acid Survivors Foundation has been working tirelessly to provide care and rehabilitation to acid-attack victims. The new funding will assist the Foundation to help victims seek legal recourse by ensuring that there is nation-wide awareness and implementation of the recent legislative changes against acid-based violence.
The Australian High Commission is also supporting the Jinnah Institute in its efforts to advocate for the inclusion of positive human rights messages and awareness of internationally accepted human rights standards in middle and high school curricula.
The High Commissioner took the opportunity to congratulate Pakistan on its recent election to the UN Human Rights Council and hoped Australia and Pakistan would continue their productive relationship and dialogue at the UN Security Council next year when Australia took up its non-permanent seat alongside Pakistan.
“Australia will continue to be a strong advocate for human rights, interfaith harmony and for the rights of women and girls in Pakistan and play an active role in providing for basic human rights including education and health assistance for some of Pakistan’s most remote and marginalised communities,” Mr Heyward said.
Kindly find hereby a press article and a few photos that highlight the event and the interface between survivors and parliamentarians. To us, these exercises are essential as they are contributing to promoting democratic processes such as dialogue between elected representatives and constituencies, and demand to access and obtain justice.
The final outcome of this event was simple and needs further follow up: parliamentarians promised that they would support both laws when submitted in the chambers (domestic violence bill, comprehensive acid and burn crime bill), but till then, how to ensure the submission? How to make bureaucracy deliver and work for the citizens who are paying taxes and are therefore entitled to be served by this very same bureaucracy? No tangible solution was presented, although its seems that one option could be the following: question from parliamentarians on the national assembly floor to the relevant administration, so let us ask for a question from parliamentarians: when will the Ministry of interior send the comprehensive acid and burn crime bill back to the NA secretariate so that the bill can be tabled in the NA?
A performance at the event. PHOTO: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE
In a moot trial on Thursday, a jury of women affected by violence called on parliamentarians to legislate for greater protection for women and better accountability for perpetrators of violence, said a press release.
The moot court, conducted at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts, was convened in a bid to collectively mark 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Girls and Women, an annual campaign that lasts between November 25 and December 10.
Parliamentarians, civil society members and UK Deputy High Commissioner Alison Blake attended the court.
As the mock court case progressed, proceedings transformed to resemble those of parliament, making a candid point that ending violence against women is a legislative issue which then needs to be implemented and enforced effectively in the courts. The debate focused specifically on acid crimes and domestic violence. The debate also touched upon the political empowerment of women and getting more girls into school.
UK Deputy High Commissioner Alison Blake said, “Investing in girls and women is transformational — for themselves, their families, and their communities. The UK is deeply committed to supporting Pakistan to empower women and to end violence against them.”
Over the coming years the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) aims to help a million more women vote, and will provide important support for some two million girls in school.
Renowned showbiz personalities Sania Saeed, Haseena Moeen, Ayub Khoso and Samina Ahmed participated in the event as petitioners, whereas parliamentarians from different political parties including Senator Saeeda Iqbal of Pakistan Peoples Party, Members National Assembly Tasleem Siddiqui of Pakistan Muslim League (N), Sufyan Yusuf of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and Asiya Nasir of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) participated as respondents.
The event was sponsored by the DFID. Groups including UN women; AAWAZ, the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Alliance; IHI; We can Campaign; Men Engaged; Women Action Forum; Legislative Watch Group; and Raising Her Voice, spoke to demand stronger legislation to protect women.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is an international campaign that originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2012.