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ISLAMABAD: Kashmala Tariq, Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women said, Tuesday that the Ombudsman is taking action to enforce the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Act, 2020 for providing protection of the rights of ownership and possession of properties owned by women.

Addressing an online session on the ‘Gender-based Violence (GBV) in South Asia during Pandemic: Evidence to advise Policy, Prevention and Response’, Tariq stated that we are implementing the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Act, 2020 to ensure that the women must get their due share in the properties.

“If the Ombudsman finds that the complainant has been illegally deprived of ownership or possession of her property, she can take steps to restore or confer possession or title of the property to the complainant.”

The Federal Ombudsman also emphasised on the due share for women in inheritance.

The ombudsman has been trying to motivate women who have been deprived of their property rights (ownership as well as possession), to come to the office for redressal of their grievances.

She stated that the harassment had a wider scope of definition as it’s not limited to sexual harassment.

The definition of harassment in Pakistan is almost the same as applicable in USA and UK. The sexual harassment does not only mean physical touch but has a wider context. However, different courts have different judgements on this issue. The judges have different mindset while interpreting the definition of sexual harassment.

“We have the powers of the High Court and we are still struggling,” the Ombudsman said.

Kashmala Tariq stressed on the plight of working women which is yet to be addressed, issues like harassment, hostile environment, discrimination and non-conducive conditions at workplace.

Nilofer Bakhtiar, chairperson of NCSW, discussed the main cause of surge in gender-based violence during Covid-19. She said a strategic plan which will be launched in December emphasizes women participation in education and health.

Tahira Abdullah, Human rights activists, highlighted the research-based solutions and stated that not only women but men, boys and children are also victim of violence. According to her in Covid-19 Pandemic domestic violence, especially in urban areas, has increased.

Dr Anita Ghimini director (NISER) from Nepal said despite, Nepal being a strong democracy women participation in Parliament is just 33 percent.

Through the online session, Saman Ahsan, Portfolio Manager, UN Women Pakistan informed that across the world, one out of three every woman suffers violence. Very few women are protected from such kind of violence. During the Covid lockdown, the domestic violence against women has considerably increased.

There is a lack of reliable data on violence against women in Pakistan. The study of Pakistan’s police stations revealed that there are 18,000 cases of violence reported against women during 2020, which is highest number so far reported in the country.

Ahsan further stated that there is a major increase in the cases of domestic violence during the period of lockdown. During 2020, the number of cases has been almost doubled when compared with past period.

Portfolio Manager, UN Women Pakistan pointed out that the cases of cyber harassment against women have also considerably increased during the Covid lockdown period.

Cyber harassment is a big issue, which needs to be addressed in the country.

Other speakers included Tahira Abdullah, activist, Islamabad; Shamim Chowdhury, broadcaster, UK; Dr Anita Ghimire, resident director, NISER, Nepal; Saima Ali, ISS, the Netherlands and Meezan Zahra Khwaja.

The SDPI panel organisers were Meezan Zahra Khwaja, Zahra Khalid, Salman Danish, Javaria Zulfiqar and Zainab Taj.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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