Speakers urge authorities to strengthen GBV response

Our Correspondent
Sunday, Dec 04, 2022

Islamabad : The speakers on Saturday said that although government worked to eliminate gender-based violence in the country but it was need of hour as the authorities concerned as well as other stakeholders should be on a common platform to cope with this issue.

They said this at a seminar titled ‘Strengthening Gender-based Violence Response Mechanisms in Punjab.’ The speakers put a focus on the recent amendment of the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016, which empowers the Authority to establish Violence against Women Centres (VAWC) in all districts of Punjab by declaring any existing government facility as VAWC.

On the occasion, they said that there was a gap in the existing redressal mechanisms for gender-based violence survivors and to make the available mechanisms more inclusive and accessible for women and transgender community. Jointly organised by Punjab Women Protection Authority (PWPA), Aawaz II Programme and Peace & Justice Network (PJN) the event was attended by stakeholders including representatives from the provincial ombudsperson on Harassment at Work Place, Gender Cell Police Department, Punjab Women Protection Authority, civil society organisations as well as lawyers, social activists, and transgender rights activists, persons with disabilities and religious minorities rights activists.

Rafia Kamal, chairperson of PWPA said that the authority has taken many steps improve the mechanism for reporting and rehabilitation against gender-based violence. She further stressed that the task of eliminating gender-based violence is quite challenging and all stakeholders need to be on a common platform to partake against the increase of gender-based violence.

Nabila Hakim, Ombudsperson (Punjab), highlighted the mandate and approachable women-friendly mechanisms that are being employed to provide a conducive environment to women in the workplace and also to ensure their inheritance rights. Dr Yasmin Zaidi, Team Lead, and Dr Zaidi highlighted that Aawaz II had trained individuals at community level who have taken initiatives to promote behaviour change for reducing harmful practices including gender-based violence, child marriages, social exclusion and intolerance.

Irshad Waheed, the director general PWPA apprised the participants that Punjab is going to replicate the Violence Against Women Centre, Multan model in all the remaining districts of Punjab and with this development, all support mechanism for the women complainants will be available under one roof.

Social activist Imtiaz Fatima pointed out the various limitations of the existing response mechanisms for women with disabilities and suggested behaviour change both in policies and in practices to ensure effective implementation of all the mechanisms with a focus on women with disabilities. While giving closing remarks, Head of Programme Delivery Arshad Mahmood appreciated the efforts of the government and civil society to address gender-based violence.

The event concluded with the pledge to keep on working against harmful and discriminatory practices against all marginalised communities. Other speakers and participants of the consultation included as Bushra Khaliq, Zanaya Chaudhary and Samia Khan, focal person of Punjab Police Gender Cell.