Civil society on Monday criticised recently approved Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Bill for providing legal coverage to illegal structures and constitutions such as Jirgas and Panchayats, promoting discrimination against less influential sections of the society.
The issue was strongly raised at the events held by NGOs and forums to commemorate National Women’s Day on Monday. In this connection, different events such as panel discussions, protests and seminars were organised by Aurat Foundation (AF), Human Development Foundation (HDF) and Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls (EVAWG) Alliance.
The national day dates back to February 12, 1983 when about 100 women marched to the Lahore High Court in protest to the discriminatory and unjust rule of law at that time. In response, around 50 women were arrested using violence (batons and tear gas).
In commemoration of the day, AF and HDF came together and hosted a discussion on Women’s Empowerment and Challenges in Pakistan.
After a brief introduction by Executive Director for HDF Saeed Ul Hassan and Director Programme for AF Uzma Zarrin, the significance of the historical day was emphasised upon by the Chief Operating Officer, AF Naeem Mirza.
Naeem Mirza spoke strongly on the pressing issues which still highly pertain on the average Pakistani woman. He continued to explain the large presence of an endocentric hierarchy and how it affects the feminine consciousness.
To bring discussion to an end, Barrister Benazir Jatoi from AF gave a comprehensive presentation conducting a critical assessment on Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill. She presented the contradictory bill to be giving “legal coverage to illegal structures and constitutions such as Jirgas and Panchayats, promoting discrimination against less influential parties.” The energy of the discussion focused around anti-women and anti-poor decisions which could be made under this bill and risk the increased appearance of atrocities like honor killing.
The Executive Director HDF, Mr. Saeed Ul Hassan, emphasised on the importance of these discussions, stating them to be practiced more frequently in order to create awareness and identify possible ways towards advocacy and positive social change.
In a protest organised in front of National Press Club by EVAWG Alliance, Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women Khawar Mumtaz briefed the participants about the struggle of women against dictatorship and discriminatory laws. Professor Farkhanda Organzaib said that women still face many challenges at the social front. Eminent Activist Tahira Abdulla criticised the ADR Bill terming it unjust against women. “Approval of this legislation shows that actually we are moving backwards in women rights struggle,” said Chairperson EVAWG Alliance Rabeea Hadi.
Imran, Myra. Civil society criticises recently approved Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill. The News, February 14, 2017.