HRCP seeks system for women`s protection, shelter homes in every district

KARACHI: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday urged the provincial government to set up an overarching women protection system under the district administration by establishing emergency help desks and shelter homes at the district level to curb violence against women.

Unveiling the HRCP report titled `Northern Sindh: In Search of Solutions`, HRCP co-chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt expressed deep concern over human rights violations in northern Sindh, precarious law and order, poor access to education and healthcare and curbs on fundamental freedoms.

Based on an HRCP fact-finding mission`s probe conducted in February 2023, the report draws on interviews and consultations in Ghotki, Mirpur Mathelo, Kandhkot,Jacobabad, Larkana and Karachi where the mission met human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, students, workers, political leaders, government representatives and law enforcement authorities.

The mission found that poor conviction rates in gender-based violence cases were exacerbated by a dearth of shelters for survivors.

Religious minorities were also deemed vulnerable to deep-seated discrimination, arbitrary blasphemy accusations and faith-based conversions.

According to the report, alarming rate of organised crime, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and exploitative feudal power systems prevailed amid a stark lack of good governance and accountability, particularly in the katcha areas.

It said that tribal feuds especially played a significant role in the region`s conflict dynamics, paralysing socio-economic developmentthere as well.

The fact-finding mission further noted that an imbalance in resource allocation has led to limited access to good education and health facilities. Moreover, while censorship of coverage on human rights issues continued unabated, journalists alleged they faced attacks by law enforcement personnel and fabricated FIRs to suppress press freedom.

Concerns related to the rehabilitation of flood victims as well as long-term climate sustainabilitymeasures alsoremainunaddressed.

The report broadly recommends establishing an overarching women protection system with shelters in every district, and monitoring issues related to religious minorities for immediate redressal.

The state must also set up accessible and affordable health and education facilities for the people of northern Sindh, and take measures to curb extrajudicial killings with special capacity-building workshops for the police.

A dedicated police unit to tackle organised crime and abductions, particularly in the 1(atcha areas, must be set up.

Furthermore, the Sindh Commission for Human Rights must keep track of enforced disappearances in the region and become party to all inquiries put before any forum.

Given the devastating impact of the 2022 floods in northern Sindh, the state must also work towards completely rehabilitating flood-affected people who await help, and devise long-term sustainable climate solutions.

The report said that harmful customary practices continued to command uncritical acceptance, particularly in the form of kam-kari (honour killings).

It said that kidnapping of women and girls were also a result of escalated tribal clashes.

The report said that the mission was informed that some victims of these gruesome attaclcs had been killed and their bodies were found in riverine areas.

It said that women also faced domestic abuse.

The HRCP report said that women and girls continued to face insurmountable barriers to quality education, such as a lack of female-only educational institutes.

The fact-finding mission also observed with considerable alarm the acute impact on young minority girls as a consequence of their vulnerability to forced conversion.

It said that freedom of movement for Hindu and Christian women and girls was restricted, depriving them of the chance to attain education.

The fact-finding report said that the effective enforcement of law remained crippled in northern Sindh which continued to be rife with organised crime, militant violence, lack of governance and accountability and exploitative feudal power systems.

The report further said that the extraordinary use of state force was evident in the form of enforced disappearances in northern Sindh. It said that citizens were detained without a rightful trial or due process in secret internment centres, ostensibly on terrorism charges.

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