24 new pro-women laws passed in Pakistan in 3 years   

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24 new pro-women laws passed in Pakistan in 3 years   

ISLAMABAD: (APP) Speakers at a national consultation on `Child Marriage' on Thursday said 24 new laws related to women issues had been passed in last two and half years from national and provincial assemblies.

"Now we need to evolve creative ways to improve and implement these laws," they suggested adding that technology should be introduced in implementation mechanism for ensuring benefits of these laws at grassroots level.

They urged society to impose social sanction on violators.

The national consultation titled, `Child Marriage: Challenges, Best Practices and Way Forward' was organised by Federal Ministry of Human Rights in collaboration with Rutgers Pakistan and Aurat Foundation.

The moot was aimed at bringing together civil society, government ministries, alliances and activists for discourse on child marriage related issues within the country.

Director General Child Welfare Department Sindh, Fouzia Masoom, Additional Secretary Social Welfare Department Balochistan, Salma Qureshi, Director General Human Rights, Hassan Mangi, lawyers, human rights activists and civil society members attended the consultation.

Barrister Benazir Jatoi from Aurat Foundation presented lacunas and challenges in laws and implementation mechanism of child marriages.

She said most obvious lacuna in the law was that the complainant had to produce evidence about the age of the girl child to prove it an early child marriage which was non-existent in most of the cases.

"Unfortunately, majority of births are not registered and there is no other evidence like B Form available in such cases," she said.

She stressed the need for making basic documentations integral for registering marriages particularly birth registration and CNIC.

Imran Haider from Rutgers Pakistan presented a successful model titled KIRANS, which successfully delayed 79 marriages of children in Sanghar district of Sindh Province under Awareness to Action Program.

KIRANS are young girls of 15-29 years of age, equipped with social mobilization and advocacy skills under Rutgers Life Skill Base Education Program.

Lauding the efficiency of the Kirans Model Ijaz Khan Deputy Chairman, Child Protection and Welfare Commission, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa endorsed that Kirans Model should be replicated in other provinces of Pakistan to prevent Child Marriages.

Fouzia Masoom, Director General Child Welfare Department Sindh, said that the government acknowledged the findings of various researches spotting child marriages as the major cause of maternal and child mortality in Thar district.

"Sindh, now being the first province to enact The Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2014, is committed to carryout maximum measures to implement the  law," she said.

She said that of the various steps taken for the effective implementation of the law, the national Identity Card had been made mandatory for marriage registration more over district monitoring committees on child marriages had also been formed in the province.

Ms. Salma Qureshi, Additional Secretary Social Welfare Department, Balochistan, raised patriarchy and old customary practices as a menace still prevailing in the province,  which approves, supports and promotes child and forced marriage in its various forms.

"This in turn violates a girl's particular right to education and health," she said adding that the women development department and social welfare department Balochistan have drafted a bill in consultation with policy makers and the broader civil society members, which has been vetted in the provincial cabinet and shall be passed within 3-4 months.

Mr. Hassan Mangi, Director General Ministry of Human Rights said the Federal Ministry of Human Rights has devised a plan of action for the implementation of Pakistan's international commitments and the implementation of enacted laws to ensure their realization in letter and spirit.

He called upon all civil society organizations, networks and government departments to work together in a concerted manner to develop any one district as a model of good practice which can be replicated or followed in other geographical areas.        Ms. Valerie Khan, Chairperson National Action Coordination Group for Eradication of Violence against Children (NACG) Pakistan, explained the role of NACG as a bridge between SAARC and the civil society at country level.

She stated that here is a regional action plan to combat child marriages in SAARC member countries. "Continuous efforts need to be put together to end violence against children and the biggest cause of violence against girls and women is early and forced marriages which cause other multiple hostile situation for women in the rest of their lives."

Hussan Bano, MPA Balochistan, said that benefit of pro women laws fails to reach the grassroots level. She said that mindset changes with exposure and stressed the need to provide exposure to young generation to bring change in the mindset.

Shamim Mumtaz, Minister Social Welfare Sindh, stressed the need to improve `Nikkah Nama'.

She said that the society needed to first differentiate between right and wrong.

She suggested NADRA to alarm law enforcers in case they received any registration of early child marriage in their system.

Chief Operating Officer Aurat Foundation Naeem Ahmed Mirza also discussed the detailed of pro-women legislations passed from assemblies and benefits masses could get through them following the right procedure.