The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has slammed political parties for consistently using foul language against women in political settings.
In an interview on DawnNewsTV programme ‘Doosra Rukh’ on Sunday, NCSW Chairperson Nilofar Bakhtiar called the language used against women in political rallies “inappropriate and deplorable”.
To address the hate speech directed against women, Bakhtiar explained that the NCSW held a nationwide consultative exercise which involved political parties.
In that exercise, she said, women — across party lines — shared their experiences which formed the basis of a report, which was shared with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP.)
“We urged the ECP to ensure punitive measures against those who use such language against women in the next elections,” she said.
She said the NCSW also wrote to the heads and secretary-generals of all the political parties but to date, no letter has been answered by any of the leaders. “This is the importance that [parties] give to women,” she added.
“Women are polling agents, they come out to vote, their presence enriches political rallies, but when speeches are made, the language used against women is foul,” Bakhtiar lamented.
Not one, but several political party leaders are complicit in this, she said, adding that women come out of the house to exercise their political rights with great difficulty.
“No political leader, whether that’s Imran Khan or Nawaz Sharif or Bilawal Bhutto, has the right to insult women,” she said.
Uniform marriage age across country
NCSW proposed that the marriage age be increased to 18 across the country. At present, the marriage age is 18 in Sindh, 16 for other areas in Pakistan and 13 for minorities.
“People get ID cards at 18, so how can one marry before that,” she asked.
One of the biggest impediments in regard to early marriage is the discrepancy in age determination.
The issue of forced conversions was also brought up, with Sindh having the highest number of cases of forced conversion in Pakistan.
Honour killings are taking place in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Bakhtiar said, adding that women are being handed over to others through the jirga system.
Bakhtiar also highlighted the murder of Sara Inam, which she claimed is not being pursued like how Noor Mukadam’s case was, since the former’s parents are not in Pakistan.