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Women Rights Status in Pakistan

A close analysis of the implementation of women’s rights in Pakistan clearly shows that their rights are frequently violated on many accounts. The commandments of Islam in connection with women’s rights are interpreted by the different factions of society in their own way (Khan, 2004: 42). The ideology of Pakistan is based on Islamic teachings and all the rules and regulations have accordance with Islamic law. There are some customs and traditions which are commonly practiced by the different societies in Pakistan, but that are not according to the teachings of Islam (UN, 2011, p. 20). All those rights which are provided by Islam to women are not given due to one or other reason but the tacit spirit behind that behaviour is to exploit the rights of this faction. The cultural norms and customary values are prevalent in Pakistani society (Ibrahim, 2005, p. 103).

The parallel justice system in Pakistan further severe the situation as Panchayat system and Jirga are generally indifferent to women and due to this reason the legal and religious safeguard provided to women are still not absorbed and accepted by the male dominated society. The fear of violation of social norms prevents women to assert their due rights because they are punished by Jirga and Panchayat on such assertion (Bari and Khattak, 2001, 230). Thus, the malevolence of parochial culture overshadows the Religion of peace and equality-Islam.

In some tribal areas including FATA and FANA, this tribal judicial system is constitutionally allowed while in practice it can be traced all over Pakistan. Due to this type of justice system, the human rights granted by the constitution are infringed in the tribal areas. The performance of these Jirgas can be analyzed through the facts that all the decisions related to women are not only based on stark bias, but also prejudice and against the fundamental rights of women (Ibrahim, 2005, p. 4-5).

2 Legal Measures available to women in Pakistan

It is noteworthy that there are plenty of laws formulated after the independence of Pakistan to protect women. But at the time of emergence of Pakistan all the laws had no distinction between both sexes and they enjoyed equal rights (Weiss, 2012, p. 3). It is described in the constitution of Pakistan that:
“There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex along; Steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life; the state shall protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child”. (Constitution of Pakistan, 1973).

After the 18th amendment, 2010, the provincial governments have granted greater autonomy for the legislation in all those matters related to women’s advancement and her welfare (UNO, 2013). It is also encouraging that all the provinces with the federal government have framed various laws for the protection and participation of women in the society, but all these legal documents are waiting its implementation according to full letter and spirit. At official level, the following Laws have been adopted in Pakistan to safeguard women:

1. Muslim family Laws Ordinance (MFLO) of 1961.
2. The West Pakistan Family Courts Act of 1964.
3. Dowry and Bridal Gifts Restriction Act, 1976.
4. Criminal Law (Amended) Act, 2004.
5. Protection of Women Act (2006)20, revised the Hudood Ordinance.
6. Criminal Law (Amended Act, 2010 (on sexual harassment).
7. Protection against Harassment of Women in the Workplace, 2010.
8. Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act, 2011.
9. Criminal Law Act (Second Amendment, 2011), referred as Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention


10. Criminal Law Act (Third Amendment, 2011), referred to as Prevention of Anti-Women Practices.
11. The Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amended Act, 2011
12. Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection), Act 2012.
13. National Commission on the Status of Women Act, 2012.
14. Enforcement of Women Ownership Rights Act 2012.
15. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elimination of Custom of Ghag Act 2013.

Furthermore, Pakistan has been signed various regional and international conventions for the protection of women and her status in society. Some of these conventions are as under:

1. International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)
2. Beijing Plan of Action, and
3. United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Pakistan signed CEDAW in 1996 and also declares its reservation on article, 29 in the following words:
“The accession with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the (said Convention) is subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
The Reservation was as under:

“The Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan declares that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph 1 of article 29 of the Convention.” The government of Pakistan is fully committed to eradicate different tools of discrimination being used against women in Pakistan without delay. According to a report revealed by the UNO:

“Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women… on the basis of equality between men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (UN, 2011: 19).

Unfortunately, conservative mindset is not willing to act upon the policies and implementation of laws which are purely made for the protection and safety of women. The state institutions of law enforcement are engaged in anti-terrorism activities and dealing with other crimes and due to this all those laws made for women are proved only paper work and, on the other side, indifferent to the plight of women within a society that remains parochial and deeply committed to a religious and political ideology that denies equality to women and seeks to exclude them from the public sphere (Bhattacharya, 2013).

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