Lahore : Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) successfully rescued a 19-year old Pakistani girl from wrongful confinement by her parents and other members of her family in Lahore.
Reportedly, the girl was brought to Pakistan from Italy in February 2018 for 10 days, under false pretenses of her brother’s engagement.
However, it later transpired that her parents wished to marry her off against her will, thus brought her to Pakistan. While in Italy, her father had put a stop to her studies.
The Italian Embassy informed Chairperson PCSW about the matter with the request to ensure safety of the girl, while the Ministry of Interior continuously followed up and provided assurance of full support. The Embassy will support the girl in case she wishes to return to Italy, where she has resided for the past ten years.
PCSW team and SHO Garhi Shahu located the girl’s address and recovered her, after which she was transported to a secure location. She is adamant to go back to Italy and continue her studies, so that she may pursue a career path of her own choice. Presently, the girl is safe and relieved that PCSW, the Punjab Police and the Italian Embassy reacted swiftly to rescue her.
In the last five years, several laws for protection of women have been passed by Punjab Assembly, as well as the National Assembly of Pakistan. These laws aim to curb the incidence of honor crimes, forced marriage, deprivation of inheritance, domestic violence, trafficking of women and children, and sexual violence against women.
Furthermore, Government of Punjab has taken multiple initiatives for the protection and empowerment of women, and is stringently implementing them. These include establishment of dedicated institutions such as the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, a woman Ombudsperson against workplace harassment, women’s shelters in every district, a toll-free 24/7 helpline for women, through which women are made aware of their rights and redress mechanisms.
The helpline has established coordination mechanisms with the police, to ensure rapid response and sensitive service delivery to survivors of violence. Through the helpline, women can also lodge complaints and grievances against Government offices. Cases of violence are closely tracked and their numbers recorded in a unique gender disaggregated repository of information, the Punjab Gender Management Information System (GMIS). This database also monitors implementation of 18 laws recently passed, and measures taken for women’s safety and promotion of gender equality in Pakistan.
PCSW also initiated the “Transitional Home for Women” project, to provide shelter, skills based and vocational training to survivors of violence, and job placement to women who are survivors of violence, so that they can be independent and cater to their own needs themselves. Government of Punjab has also set up a vibrant Violence against Women Center (VAWC) in Multan; a “one-stop-shop” to facilitate women in lodging criminal complaints, getting medical examinations done, obtain counseling, and relevant Orders from Magistrates, all under one roof. Further, front desks for facilitation of women have been set up at approximately 95% of police stations across Punjab. These mechanisms are hoped to increase reporting of cases involving violence against women.
Chairperson of the Punjab Commission, Fauzia Viqar expressed her appreciation for seamless coordination among various Government agencies, to ensure the safety and protection of a woman citizen. She also greatly appreciated support of the Italian Embassy.
Pakistan has made significant efforts in the past decade to promote gender parity and women’s empowerment. Commitments made by the government in the Constitution of Pakistan, its laws and in its various international treaties and conventions are being materialized through close monitoring of implementation to ensure that it is no longer possible to bury women in unmarked graves for “so called honour crimes” or to deny them their fundamental human rights.