Posts Tagged ‘khan’
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.
Founded by: Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman
Thursday, October 11, 2012
From Print Edition
The civil society activists have demanded the government to declare October 9, the day when child peace activist Mala Yousafzai was attacked in Swat, as National Day for Girls Education.
A large number of civil society representatives and human rights workers gathered in front of National Press Club to condemn the assassination attempt on the 14-year-old Malala when she was on her way back home from her school. Malala Yousafzai, a social activist from Swat, stood up and spoke for children’s rights and peace in the time of militancy in the area. She was hardly 11, when she spoke to media for the right to education in Swat, which was banned by Taliban.
Even during the worst terror and peak of extremism in Swat valley, she was actively involved in action by writing a daily diary on BBC website with a pen name of Gul Makai. She is also the first Pakistani girl to be nominated for International Children’s peace prize by Kids Rights Foundation The protesters were holding placards inscribed with statements of praises for Malala’s courage and pledges to take forward her mission of educating girls. They raised slogans against Taliban. Jamaat-e-Islami workers also joined the protest. The protesters made speeches and marched towards Super Market.
The protesters urged the government to take full responsibility of the safety of its citizens and take substantive action against the perpetrators. They said that it was not only an attack on a Malala but it was an attack on the right of girl’s education.
“This is the right time that we all should stand against these forces leaving aside our political differences,” said human rights activist Nasreen Azhar, read statement of Women Action Forum (WAF).
The statement demanded all political parties, judiciary, media and civil society to collectively speak out against those who are terrorizing the country.
Talking to ‘The News’, Tahira Abdullah said that the attack has left her horrified and shocked. “It makes a mockery out of false and tall claims by the government and armed forces made in summer 2009 that they have cleared Malakand from militants. We have known this since that time, but the attack on Malala has provided us with the proof,” she added.
Farzana Bari said that the civil society has declared October 9 as National Day for Girl Education and demands the government to declare the same officially. She said that the civil society has also made a call for a nationwide march in the favour of girl education, which they plan in the middle of November.
Rehana Hashmi from Sister’s Trust Foundation said that the new trend of targeting women is completely against Islam and also the Pakhtun culture. “They have tried to create an environment of fear for girls,” she said terming it a conspiracy against the country.
Naeem Mirza from Aurat Foundation said that murder attack on Malala is a desperate act of extremist forces to frustrate youth of Pakistan particularly girls who have spoken courageously for their rights including right to education. “But they have failed as the incident has united the nation behind Malala’s vision,” he said.
Samina Nazir from Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA) said that she strongly condemn the shameful act and demand strict action against the perpetrators. “This is one of the many times when the human and women’s rights activists were threatened and attacked. The government must provide protection to those raising their voices for the rights,” she added.
Valerie Khan from Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) said that the incident was the extreme violence against children and urged the government to pass pending legislation for the protection of children.
Acid and burn victims: Sensitised questioning and permission beforehand hallmark of ethical reporting
Journalists get trained on how to better report on acid, burn crimes.
This was said by Action Research Institute Executive Director Zaigham Khan, who was leading a training workshop for journalists on effective reporting on acid and burn violence in Pakistan. The other trainer at the Saturday’s workshop was ASF President Valerie Khan. The training was organised by the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), a non-governmental organisation.
In addition to being briefed on ethical behaviour while dealing with acid and burn victims, journalists also had the opportunity to interact with three acid burn victims, Safia, Shagufta and Sidra.
The young women shared their horrific experience of acid violence as well as how ASF helped them regain a semblance of their normal life.
Safia from Multan was only six months old when some people involved in a land dispute with her father broke in to her house and threw acid on her and her mother as they slept.
Safia says she has been getting aid from ASF since she was eight-years-old in the form of support and medical operations.
“I have gone through three operations so far, two on my eyes and one on my nose,” she said.
Thirty-year-old Shagufta from Muzaffargarh — a district with a high incidence of acid violence — was burnt by her husband three years ago.
In a bid to kill her and remarry, he threw burning oil on her, leaving her with burns on her body and part of her face.
She has been under the care of ASF since then. However, the numerous painful operations she has had to undergo are taking a toll on her. “I feel like the operations will never end,” she said.
Participants were given copies of the Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2012 so that they can better understand the crime.
They were also asked to join the Working Group Against Acid and Burn Violence (WGABV), a civil society group committed to the eradication of burn violence, defending its victims and generating awareness.
Earlier, Valerie Khan noted that the media’s role is central to raise awareness about the prevalence of acid and other burn crimes, as well as sensitising the public and government to it.
“We try to cooperate with the media as much as we can,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.
Need to implement pro-women laws’
LAHORE, June 27: Participants in a seminar have urged the government and the civil society to make joint efforts to ensure implementation of pro-women laws in letter and spirit.
The seminar on ‘Law enforcement for pro-women legislation and the Domestic Violence Bill’ was arranged by Mumkin, an alliance of 18 civil society organisations, at a local hotel on Wednesday.
Chief Minister’s Adviser Begum Zakia Shahnawaz said the attitude of the society towards domestic violence was deplorable as it was considered a family matter in which the law and state should not intervene.
Some 610 incidents of domestic violence were reported and around 10,000 women were identified as victims of violence or forced marriage in the country, she said and added that it was the responsibility of the state to protect its population, especially the most vulnerable segments like women, elderly people and children, and to punish perpetrators.
Ms Shahnawaz said the Punjab government was encouraging the pro-women legislation and would effectively implement the Domestic Violence Bill after its passage from the provincial assembly after which such issues would be addressed amicably in Punjab and no-one would dare to torture the vulnerable people.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan General Secretary I.A Rehman said the government should be persuaded to implement in letter and spirit all laws in general and those pertaining to vulnerable segment of society in particular.
He said that it was the duty of the civil society to see how many cases were reported and how many were in courts.
Hina Hafeezullah Ishaq of Nasreen Trust explained various clauses of the draft domestic violence bill and its provisions, punishments and central demand for survivors of violence.
She urged the government to take proper action to protect vulnerable persons irrespective of gender.
Acid Survivor Foundation President Valerie Khan stressed the need to adopt law enforcement mechanisms for the pro-women legislation.
Vulnerable persons, especially women, had been facing a lot of problems to get cases registered in the police station concerned, she said.
Punjab Bar Council president Rana Muhammad Asif Saeed highlighted various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code regarding family disputes and domestic violence issues.
Social Welfare and Baitul Maal Secretary Sardar Akram Javeed spoke about the measures taken by the government for the betterment of women victims of violence.
He specifically mentioned the 35 shelter homes in Punjab where some 10,000 or so victims were accommodated free of cost annually.
Mumkin advocacy manager Summiya Yousaf said that 6,188 cases of violence against women had been reported in Punjab in 2011.
The passage of the Domestic Violence Bill and its implementation should remain key challenges and the Punjab government should be the model province for women rights.
The most beautiful woman in her village, Shama, who was attacked by her husband in her sleep, is determined to start anew. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL
ISLAMABAD: Covered in bandages, Shama’s wounds are still fresh after surgery to treat acid burns inflicted by her husband of 10 years.
“The habit of covering my face with a pillow when I sleep saved it from burns,” said Shama, who is the mother of four children, two boys and two girls, at the age of 24.
Living at the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), while she recuperates from surgery performed at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital Rawalpindi, Shama said the horrific incident ruined her life. But she is not ready to give up.
Shama was asleep at her home in Sadiqabad in Multan when her husband, Maqsood Ahmed, poured acid on her in the middle of the night. Shama was burnt from the neck down to her waist. This was seven weeks ago.
“He was jealous of my beauty,” she said. She had recently won a beauty pageant, and was considered to be the most beautiful girl in her village.
“People used to say we look like father and daughter and he couldn’t handle that,” she added. Ahmed is 17 years older than Shama.
Unsure of what to do, Shama lay in pain till sunrise. She then went to the nearest PCO and called Rescue 1122. Although she underwent surgeries in Nishtar Hospital, Multan, her wounds did not heal.
At the time she was working in marketing and sales with a company in Multan. “While all the other girls used makeup, I got compliments for looking beautiful without it.”
But now she won’t be going back to her old job. “Being physically attractive is part of my job and I’ve lost my self-confidence.”
Her family has asked Shama to reconcile with Ahmed for her children’s sake. “He broke my trust,” she said wiping her tears, “I will go back and begin a new life without him.”
Ahmed, meanwhile, continues to roam about freely.
Shama’s case is not alone. There are many instances in which the perpetrators continue to evade the law, while their victims live in agony. The law on acid was amended last December and passed by the Senate, said Muhammad Khan from ASF, but even though acid throwing is now criminalised, with a minimum sentence of 14 years to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs1 million, some concerns need to be addressed.
Khan said investigation into the crime should be completed within a number of days determined by a judge. “In case that does not happen, a board should be set up to look into the delay.”
Surgery is very costly, for which funds should be made available from Baitul Mal, he added. “The sale of acid to farmers is something that needs to be more strictly regulated.”
Khan said the ASF will now set up awareness camps to inform people how to control damage from acid burns. “You should immediately pour as much water as you can on the parts of the body affected by acid to control the damage,” he said.
All healthcare units should be bound by law to care for an acid victim as a priority case without demanding an FIR and help in reporting the crime, he suggested. The number of acid victims has been on the rise with each passing year, despite laws to check the crime. Most acid attacks are reported from southern Punjab and Sindh, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2012.