Published On: Tue, Sep 12th, 2017

Not an acceptable excuse

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One wonders at the anti-women moves of the KP government headed by PTI where no women-friendly steps can be seen. We are all familiar with the many promises made by political parties, notably in the period ahead of an election. Many of these promises are never delivered on and seem to be intended simply to persuade people of the good the party can do. One example of this can be the PTI’s many promises of governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. While it is true there have been some promising initiatives, the situation has been far from ideal. Case in point is the KP government’s repeated refusal to carry out court orders to reopen four women’s shelters in Peshawar, Kohat, Abbottabad and Kohat which were closed by the previous ANP-led government. Despite orders from the Peshawar High Court and now the Supreme Court that they be reopened, the government has cited a lack of funds for their continued closure. This is not an acceptable excuse. Even if money is tight, the government needs to prioritise its spending; and providing a safe haven for women in danger should be near the top of its list. The government has previously argued that the crisis centres were not needed because there are alternative darul amaans in the areas.

But those are mainly for women who need a halfway house while their cases are pending in court and not for the majority of women who need to escape abusive and potentially violent situations at home. Shelter homes around the country were first established during the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto and since then domestic violence legislation has made them mandatory, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the only province which has not enacted such legislation.

When it did introduce the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2014 it was criticised by the Council of Islamic Ideology and subsequently withdrawn by the PTI government. No alternative legislation has been presented.

Refusing to fund the crisis centres is an abrogation of duty, especially in a province where the rise of militancy has curtailed many rights women should enjoy. For a party which constantly touts its female membership, this is a grave disappointment. Political leaders also need to recognise that people should not be duped by promising them something that will not be actually put in place.

The real task of political parties is to genuinely make available to people the services they require.

The crisis centres for women were among these needs. We hope the court’s orders can be acted upon and the centres restored. It remains to be seen what the PTI government does next in the province.


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