The project aims at providing information and knowledge about women/human rights education, advocacy and capacity building of young girls and women in five slum areas of district Lahore and wherever needed. The proposal evolves around sharing basic information on growing phenomenon of women/human rights education and related issues, reproductive health, domestic violence and its root causes and ways of prevention as well as education of women rights. The project also aims on establishing a group of peer educators among target population. The duration of the proposal project will be one year at first and after the evaluation of the project and requirement of the targeted communities; the project will be extended with the cooperation and consent of donor agency if possible.
The proposed project will also establish a Women Resource Centre in proposed district, where different types of activities and facilities will be available to target young girls, women and general public. The project will start with orientation and training session of the project team followed by the identification of focal group members, and then organizing five groups of twenty members in each group and one group will be organized in each targeted community.
Level of existing knowledge will be assessed by intervention of focus group discussion techniques. Towards the end of the phase again the level of information will be measured among members of all target groups. Advocacy and Seminars will also be held to raise awareness about basic human rights of women, health, and domestic violence against women. Training workshops of peer educators as well as other stakeholders will also be organized in regard to capacity building of young girls and women, religious leaders, local male and female politicians, and community leaders.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights beings with the simple statement,
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reasons and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
The term “women’s human rights” and the set of practices that accompanies its use are the continuously evolving product of an international movement to improve the status of women. During the last decades, women’s movements around the world formed networks and coalitions to give greater visibility both to the problems that women face every day and to the centrality of women’s experiences in economic, social, political and environmental issues.
The concept of women’s human rights owes its success and the proliferation of its use to the fact that it is simultaneously prosaic and revolutionary. The idea of women’s human rights makes common sense. It declares, quite simply, that as human beings women have human rights. Anyone would find her or himself hard-pressed to publicly make and defend the contrary.
argument that women are not human. So in many ways, the claim that women have human rights seems quite ordinary. On the other hand, “women’s human rights” is a revolutionary notion.
This radical reclamation of humanity and the corollary insistence that women’s rights are human rights have profound trans formative potential. The incorporation of women’s perspectives and lives into human rights standards and practice forces recognition of the dismal failure of countries worldwide to accord women the human dignity and respect that they deserve-simply as human beings. A woman’s human rights framework equips women with a way to define, analyze, and articulate their experiences of violence, degradation, and marginality. Finally, and very importantly, the idea of women’s human rights provides a common framework for developing a vast array of visions and concrete strategies for change.
Taking up the human rights framework has involved a double shift in thinking about human rights and talking about women’s lives. Put quite simply, it has entailed examining the human rights framework through a gender lens, and describing women’s lives through a human rights framework. In looking at the human rights framework from women’s perspectives, women have shown how current human rights definitions and practices fail to account for the ways in which already recognized human rights abuses often affect women differently because of their gender. This approach acknowledges the importance of the existing concepts and activities, but also points out that there are dimensions within these received definitions that are gender-specific and that need to be addressed if the mechanisms, programs, and the human rights framework itself are to include and reflect the experiences of the female half of the world’s population. When people utilize the human rights framework to articulate the vast array of human rights abuses that women face, they bring clarifying analyses and powerful tools to bear on women’s experiences. This strategy has been pivotal in efforts to draw attention to human rights that are specific to women that heretofore have been seen as women’s rights but not recognized as “human” rights. Take, for example, the issue of violence against women. The Universal Declaration states: “No one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” This formulation provides a vocabulary for women to define and articulate experiences of violence such as rape, sexual terrorism and domestic violence as violations of the human right not to be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The recognition of such issues as human rights abuses raises the level of expectation about what can and should be done about them. This definition of violence against women in terms of human rights establishes unequivocally that states are responsible for such abuse. It also raises questions about how to hold governments accountable for their indifference in such situations and what sorts of mechanisms are needed to expedite the process of redress.
Existing Situation in the Area
The existing situation in the proposed target districts is not favorable for women. Violence against women and girls has been described as the most pervasive violence of human rights. It has become a major area of concern in proposed district in recent years as more information about its incidence and impact has become available, and particular forms of violence appear to have been on the increase. Violence against women occurs at all levels and has diverse forms. It ranges from the more covert acts, (e.g. abusive language, and coercion in marriage) and goes on to include the more explicit forms of violence (wife-beating, torture, marital rape, custodial
violence, honor killing, burning of women, acid throwing, mutilation, incest, gang rape, public stripping of women, trafficking and forced prostitution and sexual harassment.
Wife-abuse is a fairly common phenomenon in Pakistan, while more apparent among the less privileged sections of society, because of closer proximity of neighbors and fewer inhibitions in talking about it, it exists even amongst the educated and economically privileged classes. It is also indulged in not only by the husband, but also by other members of the husband’s family. It can take the form of slapping, beating, torture, mutilation and even murder. Society views abuse of wife as a private, internal family matter, which cannot and should not be interfered with, almost as though a wife were a property of the husband to do with as he wishes. Thus, the normal standards of the rights of any human being are not applied to the situation. It is also usually seen as a something to have been beaten up is a common societal response, thereby condemning the act and avoiding the un-pleasant question of whether any human being has the right to inflict violence on another, whatever the reason. Domestic abuse is, therefore, seldom recognized as a crime socially unless it takes an extreme form and even more rarely by the law-enforcement agencies, which tend to treat it, has a marital dispute.
It is only occasionally that some extreme cases of inhuman torture and cruelty hit the headlines. The large majority of them go un-noted and un-addressed. Yet, it is estimated by some concerned organizations focusing on this issue that domestic violence against women takes place in every third house hold. Reports from just one women’s organization in a large city indicate that about 7000 cases of wife battering were brought to it over eight-year period. Domestic violence by husband or in-laws is increasing being cited as a reason in cases of dissolution of marriage. And the same pattern of violence, somewhat less in degree and incidence is also prevalent in the case of sisters and daughters. Female domestic servants are also not immune.
Apart from any physical damage it may do, the constant humiliation, loss of dignity, fear and sense of helplessness that a wife undergoes has a severe psychological impact on her. It can cause extreme anxiety, nervousness, and lack of confidence, low self-esteem and depression. Moreover, the lives of children can profoundly damaged by being subjected to domestic abuse, leading to behavioral and emotional disorders. Studies have also indicated that violence in the family begets violence. Thus, males who come from homes where wife-abuse has taken place are far more likely to repeat the pattern of violence with their own wives, thereby perpetuating the vicious circle of violence. Its implications for women are far more serious, since they face the threat on a daily basis within the very place, which is supposed to be a sanctuary for them.
Every year in Pakistan hundreds of women, of all ages and in all parts of the country, and for a variety of reasons connect with perceptions of honor killing. The number of such killings appears to be steadily increasing as the perception of what constitutes honor and what damages it – steadily widens. Several women who have sought divorce through the courts have been injured, killed or never been heard of again. Seeking divorce gives a strong signal of public defiance, which calls for punitive action against such women to restore male honor within the traditional honor scheme. For women to be targeted for killing in the name of honor, her consent – or the lack of consent – in an action considered shameful is irrelevant to the guardians of honors. Consequently a women subjected to rape brings shame on her family just as she would when engaged in a consensual sexual relationship. A woman raped, shames the community and dishonors the man. Honor killing was punishment for violating the honor codes but the tribes have subverted the custom of killing not for honor but to obtain the compensation that the tribal settlement awards to the aggrieved person. In honor killings if both the Kari (female) and karo (male) are killed.
Honor killings are but an extreme from of violence against women which appears to be approved by wide sections of society in Pakistan and is ignored by the state. Much of domestic violence in Pakistan is met out to women in a habitual manner, arising from male convictions that women deserve no other treatment. However, some violence is deliberate and punitive intended to punish a woman for perceived in subordination, which translates into an unpardonable transgression of a family or tribal norms. Girls and women who apprehended being targeted for killing for alleged breach of customary norms of honor have great difficulties finding refuge. In practical terms, they rarely know their way about in the world outside the home and their family’s agricultural land. Women are unfamiliar with public transport, usually have no money and are highly visible, suspect and vulnerable to further abuse if they move around alone.
While the media coverage of honor killings has no doubt increased, leading to more such cases being report, the real incidence, particularly of economically motivated killings of women concealed as honor killings, appears to have gone up as well. The sense of righteousness manifest in the way killings are carried out in broad day light, some times in public places in front of witnesses, appears to have grown too. The understanding of state responsibility for human rights violations has significantly widened in recent years to include not only violations of human rights by the state or its agents but also abuses by private sectors. If the state fails to act with due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish abuses, including violence against women in the name of honor, it is responsible under international human rights law. Constitution of Pakistan in several articles, guarantees gender equality. For instance, article 25 says: “All the citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law” and article 27 states: “There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone”
Pakistan does not appear to have taken seriously its domestic commitments to ensure gender equality and its international legal obligation to exercise due diligence in preventing, investigating and punishing violations of rights of girls and women in the context of honor. Pakistan has failed to ensure that legal provisions, law enforcement and judicial structures ensure full enjoyment of human rights by women.
Every year in Pakistan hundreds of women, of all ages and in all parts of the country, are reported killed in the name of honor. Many more cases go unreported. Al most all goes unpunished. The lives of millions of women in Pakistan are circumscribed by traditions which enforce extreme seclusion and submission to men, many of whom impose their virtually proprietorially control over women with violence. For the most part, women bear traditional male control over every aspect of their bodies, speech and behavior with stoicism as part of their fate, but exposure to media the work of women’s rights groups and a greater degree of mobility have seen the beginnings of women’s rights awareness seep into the secluded world of women.
But if women begin to assert these rights, however tentatively they often face more repression and punishment: the curve of honor killings has raised parallel to the rise in awareness of rights. State indifference, discriminatory laws and the gender bias of much of the country police force and judiciary have ensured virtual impunity for perpetrators of honor killings. The wide-ranging
Violations of women’s rights in the context of honor crime are issues, which the state has to address. Given the authority of tribal leaders and the fact that many of them are part of the legislature of Pakistan, they could be agents of change and contribute to ending the denial of rights and freedoms to women.
Our society from many aspects holds patriarchal traditions and those representing feudal – tribal cultural are prevalent. Powers for crucial decisions are vested with male who not only make voting decision but also identify the candidate for women. This act violates the women free exercise of their voting rights and hinders the development of their independent thought.
Women political participation takes many forms. The problems face by women voters have been illustrated earlier. They can contest elections for various tiers as candidates. Due to lack of financial resources women cannot earn reasonable position in prevalent political culture and existing politics do not let them reach top positions. They are forced to remain dependent on their male colleagues. They have to seek parent’s approval for joining politics they need support for various political groups. Women as political workers face immense problems. Amongst 128 political parties of country only three are led by women seven have established units for them whereas in 14 parties women are absent both in activism and leadership. The big reason is social deprivation manifested by backward political culture. Incompatible political environment also restricts women political participation.
Prevalent political culture could only attract people groups at limited scale. Generally, most of the political gatherings are male specific and if women come forward only few could join politics. The use of wealth, influence, rigging and power has pushed women out of politics. And even active women also remain hesitant to become active in politics. The political process in Pakistan has been suspended many times. Martial laws have been introducing many of times, and take over on political rulers. This frequent hang up has paralyzed the political process in country making common citizen especially women detached from politics.
Contrary to over authoritative and powerful state machinery civil society is fragile. Our democratic institutions could not achieve stability yet. The pro-democracy forces are scattered. Public opinion could not become influencing force. Media is neither independent nor impartial. Women as political activist could not contribute in politics independently in absence of supporting conditions.
Our society is marching towards progress very slowly. Pre-feudal age social values are practiced and feudal tribal culture is still part of our behavior. Women’s political participation is associated with their social engagement. Our society hold stereotype image of women. Name any sphere or identify any place women are not perceived equal nor they enjoy equal position. This is quite relevant to both lower classes and the elites. For some period lawlessness is rising. Besides thefts, robberies and murders and sexual harassment of women are rising day-by-day following no action plan for eradication comparable to crime growth. The law enforcement is becoming difficult. Even this atmosphere has problems male political participation. The women participation in politics can improve the situation but taking a good start would remain a challenge.
Undemocratic, fundamentalist and discriminatory culture is prevailing against women and violence based ideology is working to keep them inside. Resistance to these trends is also occurring through the development of new ideas. But as a result of the domination of retrogressive culture, women don’t participate in politics actively and independently.
Though education and literacy is not a precondition to political participation and neither it is customary in our country. Our education system does not inject any civilization awareness and many educated are outstanding example of ignorance. Education and democracy are not essentially linked for illiterate society can be democratic and highly literate society could be autocratic. With lower level of education and literacy, women remain ignorant of their rights and unfamiliarity with law keeps them unconfident about political participant. The women of lower classes would suffer more with the application of graduation for candidates.
A common bet key factor in women political mobilization relates to their economic position. Economic problems and constraints of domestic life within limited means have increased the individual and physical work of women. Our family routines are such time consuming that despite of looking ordinary they leave no moment spare for other activities. In a number of families women do not find time to even watches TV, how can they participate in elections?
Keeping in mind the problems being faced by women, REF wishes to develop a comprehensive community based awareness raising project on the issue of women rights and domestic violence against women for its target population in district Gujranwala of province Punjab. REF proposes to develop its own structure which will provide services to young girls and women through establishment of core groups, measuring the existing knowledge on the issues, establishment of resource centre for young girls and women, fortnightly group discussions on different violence related issues, free counseling and medical services, advocacy & seminars with general public and influential groups and capacity building of young girls and women will be done through training workshop.