پلان ایکس نے خواتین کو بااختیار بنانے کے پروگرام کا آغاز کر دیا

 

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پنجاب انفارمیشن ٹیکنالوجی بورڈ نے پلان ایکس کے تعاون سے خواتین کی کاروباری سرگرمیوں میں معاونت اور انکی تربیت کے لئے پروگرام کا آغاز کر دیا ہے۔ اس پروگرام کا بنیادی مقصد خواتین کو قومی ترقیاتی دھارے میں لانا اور انہیں کاروباری سرگرمیوں کے تیار کرنا اور انکی حوصلہ افزائی کرنا ہے۔ اس مقصد کے لئے خواتین کی استعداد کار میں اضافے کے لئے تربیت اور معاونت فراہم کی جائیگی۔ اب جبکہ پلان ایکس کا آغاز ہوئے دو برس گزر چکے ہیں تو اس تربیتی پروگرام میں صرف چار فیصد کمپنیاں ایسی تھیں جنہیں خواتین چلا رہی تھیں۔ پاکستان جہاں کی مجموعی آبادی میں خواتین کو اکثریت حاصل ہے ان اعدادوشمار کو کسی طرح بھی حوصلہ افزا قرار نہیں دیا جا سکتا، جبکہ ملک کی مجموعی لیبر فورس میں خواتین کی شرکت کا تناسب 28 فیصد ہے۔

پلان ایکس کی اس کاوش کا ایک اور مقصد اینٹرپینوئرشپ کے منظرنامے پر خواتین کی کاشوں کا اجاگر کرنا بھی ہے۔ اس حوالے سے پلان ایکس کی جانب سے گزشتہ دنوں جاری کی جانیوالی ایک پریس ریلیز میں کہا گیا ہے کہ ملک میں انٹر پنیوئرشپ اور جدت کے تناظر میں خواتین کی شرکت کو یقینی بنانے اور ان کی تخلیقی صلاحیتوں کو اجاگر کرنے کے لئے پلان ایکس نے پاور وویمن انشیٹو کا آغاز کیا ہے۔

اس پروگرام کے تحت ملک کی صف اول کی یونیورسٹیوں میں زیر تعلیم خواتین کو تربیت، اکیڈمک پارٹنرشپ کے لئے منتخب کیا جائیگا تاکہ خواتین طالبات کو انٹرپینوئرشپ کی جانب نہ صرف راغب کیا جا سکے بلکہ ملک کی مجموعی ورک فورس میں ان کی شمولیت کی حوصلہ افزائی کی جا سکے۔ اس مقصد کے حصول کے لئے پلان ایکس کی ٹیم مختلف یونیورسٹیوں میں سیمنارز کا انعقاد کریگی جس میں خاص طور پر خواتین کے ایسے پروگرامز میں شرکت کے لئے حوصلہ افزائی کی جائیگی۔

اس کے ساتھ ساتھ پلان ایکس خواتین کی جانب سے بنائی جانیوالی کمپنیوں کو اپنے ایکسیلیٹر پروگرام میں شامل کریگا جس کے تحت ان خواتین کی جانب سے بنائی گئی نئی کمپنیوں کو تین ماہ کی بنیادی تربیت فراہم کی جائیگی۔ یہ کمپنیاں بعد ازاں پلان ایکس ایکسسلریشن پروگرام کے لئے درخواستیں بھی دینے کی اہل ہونگی جس کے تحت انہیں پلان ایکس میں مزید چھ ماہ کی تربیت اور تمام تر سہولیات فراہم کی جائیں گی۔

پاور وویمن پروگرام کے لانچ پر پلان ایکس کی ڈائریکٹر حٖفضہ شورش کا کہنا تھا کہ پلان ایکس میں بطور ٹیم یہاں صنفی توازن موجود ہے اور مرد و خواتین کو کام کرنے کے لئے صحت مندانہ ماحول دستیاب ہے اور اس پروگرام کے تحت ہم خواتین کی شمولیت کی حوصلہ افزائی کرینگے۔

حالیہ برسوں میں پاکستان میں خواتین انٹرپینئورشپ نے اتار چڑھاؤ کے باوجود ترقی کی ہے۔ حالیہ برسوں کے دوران بخش فاؤنڈیشن کی شریک بانی فائزہ فرحان کو معروف جریدے فوربز کی انڈر تھرٹی سوشل انٹرپینئوئرز کی فہرست میں شامل کیا گیا اسی طرح گزشتہ برس ملالہ فنڈ کی شریک بانی شازیہ شاہد اور سگھڑ کی بانی خالدہ بروہی کو اسی فہرست میں شامل کیا گیا تھا۔

اسی طرح سال رواں میں ایک بزنس کانفرنس کے موقع پر پاکستان اور امریکہ نے ایک مشترکہ ایکشن پلان پر دستخط کئے تھے جس کے تحت خواتین انٹرپینوئرشپ کی حوصلہ افزائی کی جائے گی تاکہ انہیں معاشی خود انحصار یمیسر آ سکے۔

Sound Laws for Unsound Minds

ALTHOUGH mental illness may be as debilitating as, or worse than, any physical ailment, it is not visible to the eye. Later this week, when Imdad Ali walks to the gallows, the world will see his body being punished but not his paranoid schizophrenic mind or the delusions, hallucinations and perceptual disturbances that impaired his judgement.

Whilst it is Imdad Ali’s tragedy that the Supreme Court preferred not to exercise leniency and delay his execution, it is a greater misfortune for the country that mental health issues remain as misunderstood and underexplored, by medical and legal professionals alike, as they are pervasive.

Imdad Ali’s particular legal history is both complicated and sad. In 2002, a court in Multan sentenced him to death for murdering a religious teacher. In 2008, the Lahore High Court and then in 2015, the SC rejected his appeals. Earlier this year, he filed a mercy petition before the president, which was also rejected. Then his wife filed a petition before the high court to have his execution delayed, however, this too was dismissed. The present order has been passed in her appeal to the SC.

At each step in the proceedings, Ali and then his wife pleaded his insanity, first as a defence and then as a ground for delay of execution. In terms of Section 464 of the Criminal Procedure Code, if on consideration of the evidence of an independent medical examiner, the trial court had formed the view that Ali was of unsound mind — ie his judgement was sufficiently impaired to prevent him from understanding the nature or legal implications of his act — then under Section 84 of the Penal Code he could not have been held liable for murder. At each step, however, the courts formed and affirmed the view that despite his illness, Ali was not entitled to take this plea.

The fact that Ali had been independently examined, found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and still not considered a lunatic for the purposes of the law, or committed to a hospital for treatment before he could be tried, speaks volumes for the legal attitude towards mental illness in Pakistan.

The SC’s present order is no exception to this general trend. It states that schizophrenia is “not a permanent mental disorder, rather imbalance increasing or decreasing depending level of stress. It is a recoverable disease … which … does not fall within the definition of mental disorder….”

The court’s dismissive attitude is further evident from the fact that in arriving at this conclusion, it refers to the definition of ‘mental disorder’ in a defunct Mental Health Ordinance 2001 and interprets it in light of definitions in English rather than medical dictionaries and 1977, 1988 decisions of the Supreme Court of India, rather than recent decisions of more medically advanced jurisdictions.

It may be argued that the court’s somewhat cursory treatment of schizophrenia is due to successive courts having already addressed this issue. However, it is also indicative of the inadequate, outdated and fragmented state of mental health laws in Pakistan, which prevents the legal system from developing a meaningful understanding of underlying issues.

Whilst the joint efforts of Pakistani psychiatrists to update the Lunacy Act 1912 had led to the promulgation of the Mental Health Ordinance 2001, the law was rarely invoked. After the 2010 18th Amendment, responsibility for mental health devolved upon the provinces. However, presently only Sindh and Punjab have enacted mental health laws.

Unfortunately, even this weak legal framework has not been implemented. Presently, Pakistan has no recognised authority either for ensuring the welfare of patients or addressing the concerns of psychiatrists, even in an emergency.

Government facilities for mental patients are limited at best. The large number of private in-patient facilities are not registered with any authority and, therefore, unaccountable for the quality of their performance. Consequently, not only does the care of patients remain the responsibility of their relatives but they are also vulnerable to abuse at the hands of charlatans.

Given the situation, it falls to the courts to devise guidelines to balance the need to protect a person who is innocent but unfit to defend himself due to unsoundness of mind, and the need to protect the public from a person who has committed an act which would be a crime if it had been done with the requisite intention.

The UK Mental Health Act 1983 provides a precedent for striking such a balance. In terms of this law, if the sanity of an accused is questioned in any proceedings, he may be remanded to a hospital for evaluation or treatment and the trial may only proceed once he has recovered. Only in more serious mental health cases, does the question of fitness to defend arise.

The Court of Appeal of England & Wales has also laid down guidelines in R. v Bird (1990) for cases in which it becomes necessary for the court to sentence a mentally disordered person. It stipulated that in arriving upon a decision in this regard, courts should consider whether the offender is sufficiently dangerous and culpable to a degree that merits a custodial sentence or whether it may be more appropriate to commit him to a hospital for treatment along with a community sentence.

Disappointing as the SC’s assessment of paranoid schizophrenia and its inability to consider Imdad Ali’s welfare along with his culpability may be, the greater danger lies in the fact that courts subordinate to the SC may rely upon this judgement as a precedent in determining other similar cases.

This merely increases the responsibility of the judiciary to address future cases involving the mentally ill with greater sensitivity and to devise legal tests for determining their liability under criminal as well as civil laws, so that guilty or not, the mentally ill may be treated with the dignity and compassion that is their legal and human right.

Ref : http://www.dawn.com/news/1293240

Child marriage is a misinterpreted and cruel practice that reeks of ignorance

She shut the book and jumped around with blissful glee. Cinderella was her favourite character and she had gotten married too.

Mother had given her the news only yesterday. On her next birthday, she would be a bride, just like Cinderella. Cinderella’s wedding dress was white and puffy with beautiful flowers sown on it. So would be hers. Cinderella’s dainty shoes sparkled brightly. So will hers. Hundreds of people in fancy dresses attended Cinderella’s wedding. Her own wedding was to be attended by almost the entire village too. Food and drink will flow and everyone would look upon her as she will enter in her sparkling gown. Just like it happened in Cinderella!

The only difference is, Cinderella was not made a bride when she was 12. But for girls between the ages of 12 and 17 in Egypt, it is a frequented practice. Hence, the above described account depicts the true mind-set of each child bride that ties the knot in Egypt. Years have not yet touched their innocent dispositions. Their faculties are pure, their hearts bright and their sensibilities are not yet open to vulnerable exposure. In short, they are only children being tied together in marriages that are too big for their breeches. Such is the example of the 12-year-old Omar and the 11-year-old Gharam who were engaged in a lavish ceremony near Cairo.

Before questions are raised regarding the age of marriage envisaged by Islam and how puberty is put forth as a reasonable pretext for marriages, let us make a few things crystal clear. Islam has favoured early marriages in order to save the collective society from illicit relations, adultery and many such vices. But it has favoured ‘early’ marriages. Not ‘child’ marriages. Before someone starts giving examples of young marriages from different eras of Islamic history, let us also take a moment to ponder how drastically different were the ethos of those societies. Those were eras of precocious children who were capable of handling the affairs of not only their households, but of the entire state and empire that they were entrusted with.

Not only Muslim history, but European history also holds examples of rulers like Julius Caesar who was extremely young (by today’s standards) to take up the reins of the entire Roman Empire. But as man has evolved, so have his standards, his ethics and his values. While the behavioural sciences have advanced in theories on how to bring up children, they have also made our children more dependent. Technology and gadgets haven’t helped either. By spoon-feeding our children, we have raised a generation that is not mature enough to support or even survive early marriages, let alone the custom of child marriages prevalent in Egypt and other countries.

These marriages represent a culture of societal pressure and control that attempts to pre-empt and counter any decision making process on part of the bride and the groom. As even in the 21st century, ‘love’ marriages remain taboo for conservative societies, parents in such situations feel that they will encounter less resistance if they marry off their children while they are immature and impressionable. Some like Omar’s father in this case argue that,

“We have to protect them in their early years before they reach the age of deviation.”

Is it the only way to do so? No one denies the importance of raising kids according to certain moral standards. But is it wise to hand them such humongous responsibilities? Childhood being the most endearing and precious time of a person’s life, being deprived of it by marrying them and burdening them with obligations is sheer cruelty. What makes it even crueller is the fact that at this stage, due to their innocence and naivete, they do not realise what a marriage could bring at this time. Consummating their marriage and having their own children, while they are still pre-teens, becomes an ethical nightmare.

How can they be wise parents if they themselves are immature and inexperienced in life, not to mention their education is disrupted? Barbie dolls are replaced with crying infants being nursed by little girls who are physically fragile and mentally juvenile. But it would be unfair to say that only girls feel the brunt of this antiquated and brutal practice. Boys are affected adversely too. They become mentally stressed out from the responsibilities thrust upon them and the premature flair for physical intimacy drives them towards unhealthy and illicit activities.

Islam teaches us certain guidelines for conducting our affairs, but it also invites us towards Ijma and Qiyas, which are tools of intellectual cognition and derivations. Thus, there is a need for proper research regarding these matters in light of religion and circumstances to guide the normal public as to when and how marriages be conducted in an Islamic society.

By our orthodox beliefs, we have made our lives more difficult by brandishing the so-called iron fist of Islam at anyone who dares to question our practices. Child marriage is a misinterpreted and cruel practice that reeks of ignorance. It must be eradicated because every child has the right towards a robust childhood before he or she becomes burdened with the affairs of adulthood. Let your children, be children first and then parents, when the right time

 

‘Child sexual abuse cases have increased in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: During the first six months of 2016, 2,127 incidents of child sexual abuse were reported from across the country, according to data collected from newspapers by the non-governmental organisation Sahil.

According to a report released on Friday, such incidents have increased by 36pc from the same time last year, when 1,565 cases of child sex abuse were reported.

Sahil Programme Officer Media Mumtaz Gohar told Dawn that 86 newspapers from three categories – national, regional and local – and in three languages – English, Urdu and Sindhi – were monitored in order to collect data on violence against children.

“According to the data collected, most of the cases were reported from Punjab, followed by Sindh. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan remained third and fourth on the list,” he said.

He said that this could also be because many cases were not reported from KP and Balochistan, either because of the tribal system or because journalists in these provinces were reluctant to report on such incidents due to security concerns.

Mr Gohar added that the actual number of child sexual abuse is estimated to be double that reported in the media, as a large number of people do not want them reported.

According to the report, more boys than girls in the age groups 0-5 years and 11-15 years were sexually abused between January and June this year, compared to the same time last year.

However, more girls were abused than boys in the 16-18 year age group, and in 38pc of the cases reported in newspapers the victims’ ages were not mentioned.

Compared to this time last year, cases of gang rape have increased by 71pc, attempted rape by 61pc, ‘sodomy’ by 46pc and rape by 20pc. During the first six months of this year, 97 cases of child marriages have been reported when there were 34 such cases between January and June 2015. Of the cases reported, 946 assault cases were committed by acquaintances and 413 by strangers.

The location of the abuse was not mentioned in 1,079 cases while 318 cases happened at the victim’s home, 276 at an acquaintances’ home, 164 in the fields, 115 in the street, 38 in wooded areas, 30 in havelis, 22 in seminaries, 18 in shops, 16 in schools and 51 in other places including workplaces, marriage halls, hotels and shrines.

The report says that in the first six months of this year, 1,584 cases were registered with the police, and the status of 450 was not mentioned in the newspapers. The police refused to register cases in 82 incidents. Most of the cases were reported from the rural areas, with just 20pc cases being reported in urban parts of the country.

Ref: http://www.dawn.com/news/1278753

Pakistan has been ranked as the 8th most lawless country in the world by World Justice Project

1Rule of law is believed to be one of the core tenets of a civilised society. It does not solely pertain to those with the power and means to obtain justice for themselves but also to the marginalised who are pushed to the brink of society, ignored and unheard. When it comes to judging the quality of life in a country, it is quite obvious that reliance on law enforcement for protection and on courts for a fair hearing of grievances must be considered. It is based on this understanding that the World Justice Project issues its yearly Rule of Law index which is based on the survey responses of citizens in countries all around the world and their ratings of their country on various indicators. The index broadly measures 113 countries on such aspects as the absence of corruption, civil and criminal justice and access to fundamental rights. In its report released this year, the index has revealed data that while not surprising, should be a cause for concern and a call to action.

Pakistan has been ranked as the 8th most lawless country in the world in this index which has placed a statistical value on the untold human misery that has resulted for decades due to rampant corruption, sluggish court procedures, lack of legislation and improper use of force by law enforcement. For the less privileged, a category which includes the poor, the physically or mentally handicapped, religious and ethnic minorities, women and children this lawlessness has dire consequences. It is only recently that enough awareness has been built up for bills against sexual harassment and child marriages to be passed. There are many who languish in jails waiting for their day in court and an untold number who have decided to not to strive for justice because the procedure is often more arduous than the crime itself. While landmark pieces of legislation are an important step, they are not enough to overturn the culture of denying justice though for the present little more seems to be on the cards to improve this situation.

 Ref : Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2016.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1214591/a-lawless-land/

http://worldjusticeproject.org/rule-of-law-index

Indian teen raped by over hundred men

bbbA minor girl in India has complained of being raped by more than 100 people, including police personnel, over a period of two years.

The 16-year-old managed to escape to New Delhi last month and lodged a complaint, followed by registration of a case against 113 persons and arrest of a 26-year-old woman.

The case is believed to be linked with attempted rape and torture of a model who had escaped to the capital with the minor girl, earlier leading to arrest of four people.

India rape victim says sexually assaulted again in hospital

Those apprehended had been found to have links with a sex racket in the city, as per the case registered.

According to police, one of the accused, identified as Rohit Bhandari, lured the girl into getting her job at a beauty parlour to Pune in January 2014 but forced her into prostitution.

The man also raped and drugged the girl and made her engage in sex with multiple people, moving her to Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Bhopal.

The victim was later brought to Pune again and kept at a flat from where she escaped with the 24-year-old model and succeeded in reaching New Delhi.

Six found guilty of gang rape, murder in India

“The minor girl’s medical test was conducted in Delhi. She has also given a statement before a metropolitan magistrate,” said senior police inspector in-charge of Vimantal police station, Sanjay Kurundkar.

“We have arrested one accused, who has been remanded in police custody till April 22. We will move an application for custody of the four accused earlier arrested by Chandan Nagar police.”

The article first appeared on The Times of India
http://tribune.com.pk/story/1087199/indian-teen-raped-by-over-hundred-men-including-police-personnel/

HRCP report 2015: Pakistan witnesses significant drop in violence

More than 4,600 Pakistanis lost their lives in violent incidents in 2015 despite a 40 per cent drop in overall violence in the country. This is less than half of the 7,622 deaths recorded due to similar reasons in 2014, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) report for 2015.

Issued on Friday, the HRCP report titled ‘State of Human Rights in 2015’ said anti-state violence in Pakistan dropped below the 2008 levels, as 706 militant attacks took place, in which 1,325 people,  including 619 civilians, 348 security forces personnel, 325 militants and 33 pro-government razakars, were killed.

There were 31 per cent fewer suicide attacks as compared to 2014. During the year, 18 suicide attacks were reported.  Some 41 terrorist attacks occurred in 25 districts of the country in 2015. These attacks which targeted political leaders and workers claimed 57 lives and injured 75 others.

In 2014, the number of terrorist attacks stood at 56.

Pakistan emerged as one of the most dangerous places for journalists in 2015 as four journalists were killed and media workers were attacked with impunity during the year.  At least 15 attacks were carried out against journalists and human rights defenders.

Some 58 incidents of sectarian violence were reported from across Pakistan; however, no sectarian clash was reported. Hundreds of people lost their lives and many more were injured in faith-based attacks against religious and sectarian minorities.

Some 2,108 men and seven women were killed in police encounters across the country.

Punjab reported 3, 82,932 cases of crime in 2015. In 2014 the number of crime cases stood at 3,89,554. Sindh recorded a 42 per cent reduction in the number of murders as compared to previous year. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan witnessed a 10 and one per cent surge respectively in total crime in 2015 as compared to 2014.

The HRCP said 939 women became victims of sexual violence, 279 of domestic violence. Despite the volume of cases, the rate of prosecution remained fairly low.

Around 777 women committed or tried to commit suicide. The HRCP reported 987 cases of honour crimes.

Some 3,768 child abuse cases occurred during this year. This figure indicates a 7% increase leading to an average of 10 cases a day. Out of the total number, 1,974 victims were girls and 1,794 boys. Most of the victims fell in the age group of 11-14 years.

The HRCP report said that there are approximately 10 million child workers in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2016.