By Jeevan Thiyagarajah
A shadow report submitted by CHA and IHR to Geneva for the UPR due in November has listed several areas of concern and interventions. Empowerment of women and women’s rights and gender equality at national level through the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Empowerment as well as other national mechanisms are its' concerns. Consensusus on solutions to - Discriminatory Laws against Women- e.g. property laws, The Vagrance Ordinance is discriminatory in particular as women over 18 cannot leave remand homes without a guardian despite completing their sentence; Poor women and access to justice – There are many unconvicted women remanded in state homes who are victims of crimes or are wrongfully convicted for their husbands’ crimes. These poverty stricken women do not have adequate legal representation as they cannot afford it;
Institutionalised women- Many women within state run remand homes are victims of crimes and are not offenders themselves. There are a number of cases where women in these remand homes are abused physically and mentally. The pressing issue of children of women in custody have being taken away at age 5 which goes against the child’s rights convention as every child has the right to be with his or her parent; Enhance administration and coordination among key institutions.
National Human Rights Action Plan recommends : Review of existing legal regime and social issues to identify causes for violence against women; identify implementation gaps; introduce necessary changes ;Module on laws on VAW to be introduced in training for all involved in law enforcement – police officers, judicial officers, medical officers and health workers, social workers, and other relevant officials; Police Women and Children’s Desks – strengthen with adequate resources and trained staff; establish coordination mechanism between MCDWA and WCDs which includes community outreach and psychosocial support; Implement Plan of Action on Prevention of DV Act; Introduce/implement Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy in government sector and private sector institutions, including a grievance mechanism; Legal reforms: (a). Amend Third Schedule of Land Development Ordinance, (b). Review Vagrants Ordinance and develop measures for social reintegration and upliftment of detained women,. Implement Report of MoJ Committee on Family Law Reforms, Women affected by armed conflict –continue effective implementation of government plans for reintegration of ex-combatants to ensure proper reintegration of female ex-combatants, Formulate policy on war widows – mapping of geographical areas that needs assessment.
Taken as a whole the country has identified the interventions needed. Implementation is key.