US institutes laud Punjab women protection initiativePakistan
LAHORE: Top American institutions and universities have appreciated the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act Centres and say that it provides a wonderful opportunity for Pakistan’s neighbouring countries to follow the same lead.
“The historic legislation, that takes a firm stand against violence against women through a comprehensive and effective implementation mechanism, has pleasantly surprised not only Pakistanis but western countries as well,” said Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit (Law and Order) Senior Member Salman Sufi upon his return from the USA here on Wednesday.
He had gone there on the invitation of the US State Department which had shown interest in the legislation. “This legislation has been warmly received by the US where the power corridors usually take a skeptical view of Pakistani policies particularly about women,” he said.
He held a series of meetings with high ranking officials on Capitol Hill, Council on Foreign Relations, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s issues at US Department of State, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour and Mr Jaleel Abbas Jillani (Pakistani Ambassador to the US). They discussed and lauded the comprehensive impact of this historic legislation on violence against women crimes.
Mr Sufi said these officials were keen to explore the genesis behind the comprehensive justice delivery system and the in-built implementation mechanism being developed in Pakistan through the Women Protection Act, making it stand out in the entire South Asian region. While they believed that this legislation and the Violence Against Women Centres provide a wonderful opportunity for Pakistan’s neighbouring countries to follow the same lead. Some also admitted that such comprehensive and integrated models still did not exist in North America or Europe.
Many top-tiered US universities arranged seminars and talks regarding Pakistan’s ground-breaking legislation, which provides comprehensive protection against all forms of violence, to study its impact not only on Pakistan but also the wider Muslim world and the breaking of false notions that Islam allows for the subjugation of women.
They included Harvard Law School, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Pakistan Forum- Women, Gender and Health at Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, University of Chicago Institute of Politics and Harris School of Public Policy and the Pakistan Student Association at George Washington University.
Students as well as faculty asked a series of questions about the opposition of the Women Protection Act along with the Punjab government’s support to the law. University of Chicago’s Law School showed keen interest in sending its students to Pakistan to study in depth the impact of the Violence Against Women Centres (VAWCs), that are to be established under the law, Mr Sufi said.
Meanwhile, State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement has reportedly shown interest in collaborating with the provincial government in establishing the centres.
It is already providing training to public prosecutors in Punjab in how to effectively pursue cases of violence against women for the past two years.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2016