Mindset needs to be changed towards gender-based violence: minister

ISLAMABAD: Law enforcement and the judiciary need to be sensitised and society’s mindset needs to be changed towards gender-based violence, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said on Thursday.

At a seminar, she said the government is committed to ensuring an equal environment for all and to ending gender-based violence.

She said that in addition to effective implementation of existing laws, new legislation to protect the rights of every citizen – women and children in particular – from domestic violence is on the cards as well.

The minister also claimed the state of human rights in Pakistan is far better than many other countries.

Dr Mazari was speaking at an event titled ‘Striving to Protect and Uphold Equal Rights for All: A Public-Private Drive to End Gender Based Violence’ organised by the Islamabad police and Rozan.

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi was also present.

The seminar aimed to generate discourse on action required to end gender-based violence and to share steps taken by the police to deal with the issue.

Dr Mazari told participants that the government is committed to providing all possible support to survivors of violence.

“Besides implementing laws, there is a need to change the society’s mindset to end the gender based violence. Our ministry is working on creating awareness about the laws, especially for sensitization of public,” she said.

She said gender-based violence in a central issue and needs to be tackled as a priority. She added that increasing violence against marginalised groups requires a sensitised and professional police force, and praised the Islamabad police for professionalism and for their performance.

She said the police perform their duties for the public’s safety and security and urged people to respect them.

Dr Mazari said minorities are being given their own personal laws, saying that the Hindu divorce and marriage law already exists and a Christian divorce bill will be presented in parliament soon.

She added that steps are being taken for the welfare of the transgender community and to ensure the implementation of the transgender law.

A separate ward has been set up for transgender patients at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, she said, and they are receiving treatment free of charge and without any inconvenience.

She added that a domestic workers bill has already been approved by cabinet and will be presented in parliament soon.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2019