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Friday, December 07, 2007

The Women In Pakistan--The Dilemma

The Women in Pakistan-The Dilemma

(By-Kashif Sarmad)

The study of women in Islam and Muslim society is complex, reflecting the diverse and varied realities of Muslim women and Muslim societies throughout the ages. Alongside ideals embodied in the Quran and the traditions (hadith) of Muhammad (P.B.U.H), one must look at the actual condition of Muslim women in diverse time periods and sociohistorical contexts. The status of women in Islam was profoundly affected not only by the fact that Islamic belief interacted with and was informed by diverse cultures, but also, and of equal importance, that the primary interpreters of Islamic law and tradition were men (religious scholars or ulama) from those cultures.

The Situation in Pakistan for women is not the amicable. Still now young girls are being hanged in the name of VANI and KAROKARI (honor killing). Young girls are forced to marry by their parents. Young girls are afraid to go to gain their education because brutal and illiterate flag bearers of society are ready to throw acid on them. The registered rape ratio has been increased. I mentioned the word registered here because most of the rape cases never been reported due to the scare of ill fame of the community or family.

In some cases some particular families do not make relationship out of the community of family which is the biggest draw back of this Islamic society. This thing creates the caste system which is highly prohibited by the Islamic teachings; this negates the equality of all human beings. The marriage of women with Quran is also the biggest issue in Sindh.

I would also like to mention the statement based on ground reality conditions of the women in Pakistan by Hina Jilani (the lawyer and human rights activist): "The right to life of women in Pakistan is conditional on their obeying social norms and traditions.

"The United Nations has also concerned with the equality and rights of apposite gender in Pakistan: "...improving the status of women also enhances their decision-making capacity at all levels in all spheres of life...International Conference on Population and Development (1994)

The Constitution of Pakistan (1973) guarantees this equality between women and men. It has the following provisions for affirmative action for women:

Article 25 states: "All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection before the law; there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone; nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the protection of women and children.

"Article 34 states: "Steps shall be taken to ensure the full participation of women in all spheres of national life."

Pakistan has also adopted several of the international commitments to protect basic human rights and gender equality. These include:

1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

International Labor Standards and ILO Basic Human Rights Conventions, e.g. Freedom of Association and Protection of the Rights to Organize 1948;

1.1 Discrimination in Employment and Occupation 1958.

2. The Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (1985).

3. Education for All, Jomtien,1990.

4. Convention on the Rights of the Child, (CRC) ratified by Pakistan in 1990.

5. Agenda 21, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio, 1992.

6. Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, Vienna Conference on Human Rights, 1993.

7. The Programme of Action, International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 1994.

8. Platform for Social Development, World Summit on Social Development, Copenhagen, 1995.

9. Beijing Platform for Action, Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 1995.

10. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, (CEDAW), Pakistan acceded in 1996.

Moreover, Pakistan has been seeking to operationalise its commitments in a variety of ways. Implementation of the government’s Social Action Programme (SAP) started in 1992/3 with a major focus on removing gender disparities, especially in basic education and primary health. Efforts are under way to include gender concerns in all planning initiatives. The Ministry of Women’s Development, Social Welfare and Special Education is also striving for greater gender sensitization of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1998-2003)

Below are some human social indicators for females and males in Pakistan, taken from both the Global and South Asian Human Development Reports, as well as from Pakistan’s own Integrated Household Survey, 1996/97. It should be recognized, though, that there is a lack of gender-disaggregated data available:

A. Literacy rates: Female 28% Male 51%

B. Gross primary enrolment: Female 64% Male 80%

C. Combined enrolment ratio: Female 25% Male 50%

D. Maternal mortality: 340 per 100,000 live births

E. Mortality rate (1-4 years): Females 12% higher than males

F Labor force participation: Female 11.39% Male 69.1%

G. Earned income share: Female 20% Male 80%

H. Seats in Parliament: Females 3.4%

I. Top administrative/managerial jobs Females 3%

Amnesty International has also called on the Government of Pakistan to take urgent measures in the following three areas in fulfillment of its obligation to provide effective protection to women against violence perpetrated in the name of honour and to end the impunity currently enjoyed by its perpetrators.

1. Legal measures undertake a review of criminal laws to ensure equal protection of law to women.

Adopt legislation which makes domestic violence in all its manifestations a criminal offence. The UN Special Reporter on violence against women developed a framework for model legislation on domestic violence [14] which Amnesty International recommends is used when drafting legislation against such crimes.

Make the sale of women and girls, the giving of women in marriage against financial consideration and as a form of compensation in lieu of a fine or imprisonment a criminal offence.

Provide women victims of violence with access to the mechanisms of justice and to just and effective remedies for the harm they have suffered.

Ensure that the provincial home departments, commissioners, deputy commissioners and senior police staff take notice of all reports of honour killings and ensure that every single case is investigated and brought to prosecution.

Abolish the death penalty and commute all death sentences.

2. Preventive measures

Undertake wide-ranging public awareness programs through the media, the education system and public announcements to inform both men and women of women's equal rights.

In particular, provide gender-sensitization training to law enforcement and judicial personnel to enable them to impartially address complaints of violence in the name of honour.

Ensure that data and statistics are collected in a manner that makes the problem visible.

3. Protective measures

Ensure that activists, lawyers and women's groups can pursue their legitimate activities without harassment or fear for their safety by providing adequate police protection and pursue all such threats with a view to punishment.

Expand victim support services provided by the state or non-governmental organizations; they should be run as places of voluntary recourse for women and their purpose should be only protective; they should be available all over the country, adequately resourced, and linked to legal aid, vocational training and with adequate provisions for children.

Here I will emphasize on one vital and less addressed issue of the women. One of the neglected and burning issue is the Girls are severely fatalities of forced marriages by their parents. Some of the parents do that because of illiteracy, poverty and bogus community system. In this modern and advanced age, parents and I must say even educated parents are averse of the love marriages. I am not trying to convince that love marriages are the only way out. But the truth is that, girls has right to choose their life partner. She must be given chance to see that person and to analyze according to her needs and demands. Parents should respect the say of the girl whether it’s in affirmative or negative.

I have seen literate families who are forcing their girls on the marriages and imposed their decisions as final decree. They think that whatever decisions they make is good for their kids and never consider their kid’s will in that most vital decision of their life.

The irony of fate is that government has done nothing in this regard. Just passing the statements or condemning the acts is not enough. They must take some practicable and applicable measurements in order to eliminate this evil act of society as soon as possible through all means.

Islam is also against the forced marriages. There are some examples in the Islamic history that the forced marriages were bete noire by our beloved Holy Prophet (PBUH).

According to the Islamic Law, women cannot be forced to marry anyone if they object. As it is attributed to Muhammad (PBUH):

Ibni `Abbaas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of God, Muhammad (sws), and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice [between accepting the marriage or invalidating it]....the girl said: "Actually I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right [to force a husband on them]". Sunan Ibn Maja 1873.

Article 16 of the human rights universal declaration about it marriage mentions that any person has a right to choose the life partner, unrespectable of cast, color, nationality and community.

“Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16.

Our forefathers have given us the traditions which might were best for those epochs. Now those traditions, rituals and customs need some modification according to this present era. Some of them are out dated and some of them are injurious to the humanity.The government of Pakistan must take some steps to prevent this injustice. They should do like mandatory that before marriage girl should be met with lady judge or lady magistrate in personal and then that lady magistrate issue the certificate of clearance for that marriage after consulting the bride and telling the bride about her constitutional and religious rights. It’s like suggestion to prevent the injustice with the young and immature girls who been victimized by the emotional and sentimental situation made by their parents.
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