Judicial system being reformed to curb women abuse: minister

LAHORE: Punjab Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raja Basharat Monday said the provincial government was bringing about reforms in the judicial system to curb incidents of women abuse and harassment and it needed cooperation of the bar and bench in that regard.

Addressing an awareness seminar on ‘Women harassment and violence’, he condemned the incidents of sexual harassment and violence against women in the province. The event was organised by the Lahore police at Alhamra Arts Council.

The minister said that the Punjab government had taken concrete measures and it was utilising all its resources to protect rights of women and children.

Raja Basharat said institutions and laws exist already; however implementation of these laws in letter and spirit was need of the hour.

The Punjab government had already established women crisis centres, the Punjab Women Protection Authority, Women Development Task Force, Women Police Stations, etc., and a legal framework regarding domestic violence had also been evolved to protect women, he added.

The minister said that the media and civil society should also appreciate good performance of the police to further improve its service delivery and community policing.

Addressing the seminar, Representative of the Prime Minister for Religious Harmony Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said: “Our women are our pride as Islam safeguards the rights of women and gives them assurance of opportunities to progress in every sphere of life, using their best skills and capabilities”. He said that ulema of Pakistan were with government, police and judiciary to protect the gender rights.

Justice (retd) Nasira Iqbal said judicial process should be improved and accelerated with speedy trial in cases of gender-based crimes. She demanded increase of women police stations and women personnel at police stations so that victims of sexual harassment could communicate with them properly and lodge their complaints without any pressure.

Punjab Minister for Women Development Ashifa Riaz also condemned all forms of violence against women and demanded immediate punishment for the perpetrators. Suggestions for speedy justice and strict punishment were also considered by the participants of the seminar as well.

In his welcome address, Capital City Police Officer Ghulam Mahmood Dogar expressed his deep concern over the increasing trend of gender-based violence in society.

Dogar highlighted the initiatives of Lahore police to redress the grievances of victims of gender-based crimes and said that police had taken robust action against all the accused involved in harassing women, such as registering FIRs immediately and ensuring arrest of culprits with speedy investigation into the cases.

A dedicated helpline 1242 has also been allocated by Lahore Police to directly approach the CCPO Lahore and get redressed grievances regarding gender-based crimes and violence cases, he added.

Ghulam Mahmood Dogar said the Lahore police had established the first “Anti Women Harassment and Violence Cell’ as basic response unit in such cases at police station Defense Area (B) where female victim support officers (VSOs) would be available to the citizens round-the-clock.

Vice Chancellor Lahore College for Women University Prof Dr. Bushra Mirza, Chairperson Punjab Women Protection Authority Fatima Chadhar, President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President Lahore Bar Association, a large number of female police personnel, universities’ students and faculty members, representatives of NGOs and all segments of society attended the seminar.