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India, Pak to work for S Asian women's body
November 06, 2006 20:39 IST
The decision to try and set up a common women's rights body for the region was taken at a meeting between the visiting Pakistan women's delegation and the National Commission for Women in New Delhi.
"The problems of women in the South Asian countries are no doubt very similar and it will help if we have an apex body of women's organisations from the different nations in the region that will meet regularly," NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas told reporters.
Simi Kamal, member of Pakistan's National Commission on the Status of Women who is heading the four-member delegation of the women's organisation, said "on the lines of SAARC, the South Asian women's groups can come together on a common platform."
She said the women's rights groups from the region could meet at regular intervals to review the implementation of laws meant to safeguard the rights of women and learn from each other's experiences.
Vyas said the two women's commissions would take up with the respective governments the need to set up the apex body.
The Pakistani delegation had a nearly two-hour long meeting with the full commission where the two sides exchanged notes on their functions and powers and the problems faced by women in the two countries.
Vyas said the two commissions could together take up issues like trafficking, marriage laws, Maternal Mortality Rate, education and health.
Asked about the two biggest women's issues in Pakistan, Kamal said, "Women in Pakistan have the same problems as other South Asian women. They are treated as second class citizens and suffer all kinds of violence."
She said Pakistan would soon have a law against domestic violence. Under pressure from women's groups, the government would table in Parliament a Women's Protection Bill aimed at reforming the 'Hudood' laws that put the onus of proving rape on the woman, Kamal added.
"The Pakistani Constitution guarantees equal rights to men and women, whether they belong to the majority or minority communities. But it is definitely a struggle to ensure women their rights," she said.
Terming the rise of fundamentalism the biggest threat to women's rights in her country, Kamal said, "In the 1960s and 70s, the societies were more open, but now, with the rise in fundamentalism, we have to work hard to ensure that women get their constitutional rights."
To queries on the topical veil issue, Kamal said women in Pakistan were free to dress as they wanted.
However, more and more women were taking to the veil as an instrument to assert their religiosity, she said, adding it was more of an urban phenomenon than rural.
When asked for her comments on Imrana issue, she said it should be treated as a case of rape of a woman and her relationships prior to the crime should be left alone.
The Pakistan women's commission has extended an invitation to the NCW to visit their country.