Publisher: APCNews Austin, 13 February 2011
Women survivors of domestic violence in Pakistan have long endured twofold abuse – not only at home but by a government that does not protect them. In 2009 there was hope the government would step up to protect women from domestic violence – the National Assembly passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, but the bill expired after the Senate failed to pass it within the three months required under the country’s constitution.
The Domestic Violence bill sought to prevent violence against women and children with a network of protection committees and protection officers and prompt criminal trials for suspected abusers. The proposed law defined domestic violence as including, though not being limited to, “all intentional acts of gender-based or other physical or psychological abuse committed by an accused against women, children or other vulnerable persons, with whom the accused person is or has been in a domestic relationship.”
However, a Pakistani non-profit and non-government women’s rights organisation is working to reintroduce the bill in parliament – through the use of information and communication technology, and after training from APC.
Baidarie Sialkot Pakistan, which has worked for the empowerment and development of women since 1993, created an online petition to reintroduce the bill.
Baidarie’s president, Hina Noureen, says that the online petition is unprecedented in Pakistan and the response has been heartening.
“I think it is first time in Pakistan, in the development sector, there has been an online petition on an issue,” Ms. Noureen said in an email interview. “We are receiving an encouraging response from the petition. People who are signing our petition come from different spheres of life: human/women rights activists, representatives of different non-government organisations, lawyers, teachers, housewives, community influentials, police, famous people from the judiciary, and layman/women etc.”
And Ms. Noureen attributes the idea of the online petition and its success to the training she has received from the APC women’s programme (APC WNSP). She said the training from APC WNSP gave her the knowledge to select the most appropriate and relevant tools for the campaign, of how mobile technologies can support the campaign, and of strategies to use online petitions effectively.
The online petition was circulated in conjunction with APC’s Take Back the Tech! 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign which ended in December.
At the time of writing, the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill still had not been passed by the Pakistani government. Baidarie will submit the signatures to the Ministry of Women Development in March.
Photo by lapideo. Used with permission under Creative Commons licensing.