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Women and Children

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Harassment of Women in Public Transport necessitates for women-only transport 

16 Mei 2011 09:42:30

Harassment of Women in Public Transport necessitates for women-only transport



Harassment of women in public transport is widely reported with 92% of women interviewed for a research conducted by Social Research and Development Organization (SRDO) preferred to travel in women-only transport, which is seen nowhere here. A social researcher Mr Amir Murtaza who led the research said the majority of the women who commute using public transport wagons and buses have complained of different forms of harassment, including verbal, physical and sexual harassment. The survey of 75 women commuters, aged 19 and 45, conducted in Karachi also disclosed that inappropriate touching, making sexual comments and steering by male passengers is overwhelmingly rife. The respondents, however, made it clear that the incidents of harassment are far lesser in rickshaws and taxis. Farhana Hussain, a women rights activist, said, “we should not see the issue, harassment of women in public transport, in isolation as it is an open fact that harassment and violence against women inside four walls and on the streets is just one feature of our male dominated structure that always put blame on victims instead of helping them.” She said successive governments have taken very positive steps and introduced specific legislation to curb violence and harassment against women in houses, at workplace and in public transport. However, a clear lack in implementation mechanism has made it difficult to provide.- A large majority of respondents, 59 percent, informed that insufficient space for women passengers in buses and wagons is a major problem for them. A nineteen-year girl student on condition of anonymity told the survey team that she and her friend due to repeated incidents of harassment at the bus, they have started commuting in rickshaw. “Though traveling in rickshaw is quite expensive for us, but we feel quite secure in it,” she added, “in my opinion the government should introduce women-only buses in big cities to tackle the issue of harassment of women passengers.” Mohammad Anwar, an International Development Consultant, informed that the idea of women-only transportation services is not new in many parts of the world. He further said that such services are being launched in several countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Japan, only to prevent the harassment of women and young girls in public buses. The research pointed out that 92 percent of the respondents would prefer to travel in women-only buses or wagons as they absolutely felt more secure to travel without the males. It is interesting to note that a large percentage of respondents, 84 percent, showed their willingness to stay at the bus stops even for more than 45 minutes, if they have any chance to travel in women-only bus or wagon. However, 16 percent of the respondents observed that they may not spend much time waiting women-only transport. Another working woman Ms K, 38, who had experienced visible harassment while standing at a wagon stop, said once a young motorcycle rider insisted her to sit with him and despite the fact that many people were standing on the spot, no one had bothered to stop the boy to harassing her. Abdul Qadir Bullo, President SRDO, while commenting on the situation observed that due to failure of law and order situation, people have started ignoring such incidents as they don’t want to involve themselves in any such incident or situation. He observed that even police don’t take road side harassment of women or girls, very seriously. Unfortunately, 76 percent of the respondents opined that the victims of harassment should remain silent; however, 24 percent observed that women/girls should immediately report the case. One of the respondents suggested setting up a helpline to specifically deal with the cases of harassment in public transport. Rubina Ihsan, a lawyer by profession, said in majority of harassment cases women or girls were too afraid to respond. “If the victim opts to keep silent the perpetrator takes further advantages.” She suggested that the government should take strict measures to tackle the issue of harassment of women in public transport. The survey further informs that despite the fact that playing loud music in public buses or wagons is a serious offence and can result in fine for vehicle drivers; however, a majority of bus drivers don’t bother to follow traffic rule and play loud music that according to 90 percent of the respondents is very annoying. Abdul Qadir Bullo, President SRDO, observed that loud music could also be a contributing factor in road accidents. He said traffic police should strictly check and impose fine on the violators of traffic rules and regulations. Imdad Hussain, a social worker and human rights activist, said the number of women commuters is moving in upward direction while only a small compartment and very few seats are reserved for women in public transport. He added that it is a matter of concern that male passengers even, sometimes, occupy place in women reserved compartment, which is legally and morally wrong. The owners and associations of public transport should make sure that their drivers and support staff obey traffic rules and regulations. Furthermore, federal and provincial legislators and officials should take necessary steps to improve legislation and implementation with a view to tackle harassment of women in public transport in the country.

Fated to Suffer till Death 

04 Mei 2011 12:16:24 nm

Fated to Suffer till Death

The feeble hands of Haleema Bibi in her 80s still cut the grass using a sickle like any youth without knowing what’s going on around her near Sawan Village on Islamabad Highway.


She has three daughters who have been married when she lived in Charsada nearly two decades ago. Her husband, a woodcutter by profession, also died 15 years ago and she shifted to Sawan Village because no one was left with her.

Among her belongings is a goat that she carried with her from Charsada. She has great attachment with the beast that is why she cuts grass for it along the edge of busy Islamabad Highway.


Talking to the INFN, she told that some one has given her shelter to pass the night and she is given meal by neighbors, makes tea on her own in the morning. Often fellow citizen give her some money from which she buys medicine etc.


When asked by INFN about the President of Pakistan, she replied,” I don’t know about the president of Pakistan, but I knew about the Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan who made atom bomb for our country”.


“I do not want to go back to my village because there are so many nostalgic memories of my deceased husband that make me sad in this old age,” she shared with tears sparkling in her eyes.


In her last will she has requested to the people living in her neighborhood that after her death she should be buried at Sawan Village. “I want to die because I am really fed up of this depressed life, which depends on others’ alms and assistance,” Haleema Bibi told with a heavy heart. People help her on different occasions, especially on Eid, and bring some cloths and shoes as well for her and she celebrates the festivals with unfamiliar persons as if they are members of her family.


Although, I want to spend the last stage of my life in ease and know that I have spent my time and I am approaching death fast yet Happiness and I are still on different pages. It is desperately needed that the government, non government organizations and the civil society should come forward for the welfare of such old citizens especially the women and build old-age houses for them where they can spend the last few years of their life in a peaceful and dignified manner.

Why Are You Paying School Fees: Your Constitution Says You Don’t Need To! 

29 April 2011 09:04:37

Why Are You Paying School Fees: Your Constitution Says You Don’t Need To!


CPDI’s petition admitted in Islamabad High Court

Centre for peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has filed a petition under Article 199 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan seeking free and compulsory education for children aged 5 to 16 as stipulated by Article 25 of constitution and has challenged fees collected by schools under different heads. The petition has been admitted by the honorable court today.


Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director of CPDI explaining the reason of filing the petition said that the government schools across the country including those under the direct jurisdiction of the Federal Government continue to require students to pay fee and other education related charges of various types, which include, among others, admission fee, magazine fund, PTA fund, student leaving certificate fee, contribution for student fund and examination related fee or charges, despite the fact that Article 25-A of the Constitution specifically and explicitly says that the State shall provide free education and, therefore, no education related fee or charges can be levied upon the students.


He maintained that by charging students under various heads and by not providing free and compulsory education to all children of 5-16 years of age in the ICT and other Federal Areas, the Federal Government is committing a violation of Article 9, 14, 25-A and 37 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Petition further maintains that the right to education can also be inferred from several fundamental rights like the right to life (Article 9), Human dignity (Article 14), right to freedom of speech and expression (Article 19) and right to information (Article 19-A). Justice Riaz Ahmed of Islamabad High Court has ordered Federal Directorate of Federal Education and Capital Administration and Development to explain their respective positions on this matter.

IHI resent split SC decision in Mai case 

29 April 2011 09:03:20

IHI resent split SC decision in Mai case

Calls for review petition for full bench hearing

Insani Huqooq Ittehad (IHI), an alliance of leading non government organizations working on human rights, Thursday called upon the government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court for a full bench hearing to review the 21st April split decision in Mukharan Mai case.

A three member bench of the Supreme Court in its split judgment on 21st of April in panchayat ordered gang-rape case of Mukhtaran Mai acquitted all the accused with the exception of one.

The representatives from Aurat Foundation, Bedari, Pattan, PODA,  Sungi, SPO and SDPI addressing a press conference were of the view that this decision needs to be reviewed because on similar evidences and case documents one judge has ordered for ten years imprisonment for all accused while the two judged decided to acquit them all except one. Naeem Mirza from Aurat Foundation, Dr Farzana Bari from Quaid-e-Azam University and Sarwar Bari from Pattan, Samina Nazeer from PODA, Samar Millah from Ethnomedia and others spoke on technical and cultural and gender aspects of the case. They said the superior judiciary should not have decided this cases only on the basis of weak police investigation and evidences as this case was not to decide on these factors as this relate to sanctity of women and a case of millions of women who will face odds at the hands of lower judiciary in such cases as they follow superior judiciary while deciding such cases.

In a press release it is said that, ”The Supreme Court’s judgment on 21st of April in panchayat-ordered gang-rape case of Mukhtaran Mai’s that acquitted all the accused with the exception of one, sent a shock wave to the width and breath of the country. The ruling of the SC in this infamous case clearly shows that our criminal justice system that is dominated by male judiciary with deep patriarchal biases, ridden with corruption, susceptible to political influence, rotten with inefficiency of investigation and prosecution processes is incapable of dispensing justice to the victims of rape and sexual violence.

The level of impunity this judgment has provided to rapists and the panchayat (parallel judicial system) have created a deep sense of insecurity and loss of faith in the state that could provide protection and justice to women against sexual abuse and violence.


The way SC judgment raises the issues of delay in lodging FIR, made frequent patriarchal speculations and assumptions in the detail judgment such as arguing that culturally it was not possible to believe that brothers could endanger the virtue of their sister by detaining her in a room with Shakoor (Mukhtaran’s brother) to save themselves from the accusation of sodomy shows that the understanding of our superior judiciary is completely divorced from the ground realities of our culture.  They are blind to the fact that everyday women are bought and sold in the country by their brothers, fathers and husbands.  They are exchanged in the name of local culture and tradition of walwar, vani to settle disputes amongst men. They are in denial of incest in our society where their own fathers and brothers at times rape women. The lack of gender sensitivity amongst our judges seems to be a structural issue that often colors their judgments in cases of violence against women.

The outrage shown by the people of Pakistan on SC judgment shows the clear divide in the sense of justice between the state and the society. It is felt by people that justice is not being carried out in this historic test case, which is going to have serious implication for women of Pakistan. The judgment shows that the impunity provided to rapist by the patriarchal state of Pakistan for more than twenty-seven year under Hudood Ordinance (1979) that required four Male Muslim Witnesses to award Hadd punishment has become a part of judicial culture now. Lack of conviction in rape cases despite Women Protection Act (2006) that removed the crime of rape from Hudood Ordinance and puts it back to Pakistan Penal Code is indicative of the continuing misogynist mindset of our judiciary.

The judgment highlights the serious flaws in our law as well as in our criminal justice system that is most obviously not geared to dispense justice to women victims of sexual violence. The inefficiency of investigation due to corruption and lack of access to modern technology such as DNA testing labs etc and the inability of the prosecution to gather sufficient evidence are some of the serious institutional issues that Mai’s case has brought to the fore. However, our question is why Mukhtaran has to pay for the inefficiency of the CJS?


We demand of the Government of Pakistan to file a Review Petition with the Supreme Court on behalf of women of Pakistan, Review must ensure a full and larger bench to hear review petition, Immediate initiation of judicial reforms starting with introducing amendment in the Evidence Act, Government should invest in modernization of CJS by establishing modern DNA labs, swab test laboratories etc, Strengthening the prosecution and investigation system, Removing corruption, forgery and use of political influence in the police, Purging judiciary and police with patriarchal biases by making it mandatory for judges and police officials to attend gender trainings and the gender performance should be included in their assessments for promotion and Appointment of women judges who are known for their understanding and work on human rights issues.”

Invest in children to improve their lot to ensure defense of country 

29 April 2011 09:01:04

Invest in children to improve their lot to ensure defense of country

Militancy claims 92 lives of children; far from achieving MDGs

No more excuses for investing in children’s health, education and nutrition, as they are the best defense line for the future of the county.

This was the crux of presentations by various speakers and key points of the 15th Annual Report on “State of the Pakistan Children 2010” launched by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) here Wednesday.

The report says in 2010, 92 children died while 118 children were seriously injured due to militancy. It says the Government of Khyber PakhtunKhwa took a positive step towards addressing violence against children by propagating the Khyber PakhtunKhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act 2010 in September.

Moreover the passing of the 18th Amendment seems to be promising for the education system of Pakistan as Article 25 guarantees free and compulsory education for children aged 5-16 years. In the education and health sectors, Pakistan remains far from achieving the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The July 2010 floods further exacerbated the situation of children as by September 2010; there were over 2.5 million children under the age of five who were in need of food.

Member of National Assembly Bushar Gauhar said the report spoke of the state of the children which is going from bad to worse as child labour is reported down in the world while it is on the rise in Pakistan. She said under the 18th Amendment in the constitution, free education for all children aged 5-16 has been committed but to make it happen in actual, media and civil society and each citizen has to exert their pressure.

“We have to make decision whether we have to continue to invest in defence expenditures or in children for their education and development,” she added.

Qatrina Hosain from Express News called upon journalists to pro actively write stories on child rights issues and they should not wait for footage and pictures to do stories relating to children and their protection.

“Each one of us has to break silence by speaking out for working children. We have to discourage families employing children and rather suggest them to hire their parents and elders and not the children,” she added.

She regretted that children are hired because they can be exploited and they are given low wages. She said there are no laws or insufficient laws that can help rescue children from hazardous work places.

Executive Director of Ethnomedia, Samar Minallah spoke on culturally sanctioned violence against children and said Vanni, Swara, Sung Chatti and Irjaai are various forms of forced marriages of children in exchange of dispute settlement among tribes and individuals.

Arshad Mahmood, Executive Director SPARC in his inaugural speech regretted that no concrete steps have been taken for the implementation of the Concluding Observations and Recommendations (CO&Rs) made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in consideration of the last periodic report submitted to the Committee by Pakistan. He lamented that despite acknowledgment of the draconian nature of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) by the government in the speeches by the President and Prime Minister in the inaugural session of the National Assembly in 2008, the FCR still exists in FATA; numerous people including women and children continue to be imprisoned under its collective responsibility clause. He said political will is key to improve plight of children on a sustainable basis.

Deputy Head of Mission from the Royal Norwegian Embassy Terje Barstad said Pakistan has a long way to go in the implementation of the Recommendations made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. At least 40 per cent of the population here comprises of children under the age of 15 years. The health care in the country also remains to be prioritized. He shared that the Norwegian Embassy is focused on basic education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as on mother and child health care.

Chairman of SPARC’s Board of Directors Rashid Rehman presented his concluding remarks following a question and answer session in which the participants shared recommendations. The democratic government needs to ensure that the rights of children are protected and promoted.

Who to wipe tears out of faces of children wiping dirt out 

25 Januarie 2011 12:51:31

Who to wipe tears out of faces of children wiping dirt out


Sohail Rashid


This is a big question mark for all of us as to who will wipe tears out of faces of children wiping dirt out of car screens, rag picking and through other hazardous works at the cost of their childhood? Number of such children is increasing day by day at traffic signals and in the streets.


Children from poverty stricken communities run to cars approaching traffic signals and try to take lead to wipe windscreens of cars. INFN observed that number of children rushing towards a car now reaches from one-two to three-four, 60-70% rise.


Ragpicking is another worst form of child labor and hundreds of children are working as ragpickers in twin cities, while they may be in hundreds of thousands in the country. We need to realize that child labor seriously jeopardizes children's prospects for a better future. We are committed to Article 32 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that says: "State Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development".


“Working children need to be protected as our children and their rights and dignity should be respected. Unfortunately, some people pass on ruthless comments and remarks and reportedly abuse them as well. These children wipe dirt out of our car screens but we need to wipe tears out of their innocent faces,” said Ms Shaista Malik, JDHR’s coordinator working for protection of the rights of the working children in Pakistan.


INFN observed that while rushing toward cars stopping at signal, these kids are some times badly treated when ask them not to touch their cars’ windscreens. Sometimes they clean screens but they are paid a single penny as cars go as signals turn green.

“My father is a labourer and he can’t manage all expenses of the family so I have to work to help him,” said Farhan, 6, who was standing at a signal near Faizabad. He said he did not go to school as he and his family cannot afford even two meals a day.


Surriya, 10, also does the same job in a group with her fellow girls, said she is new in this field and she don’t know how to take money from motorists. “Whenever I ask for some rupees after wiping the screen of any motor, driver abuses me and say that he didn’t ask her to clean,” she narrated with innocence.


Childhood is considered as an age of growth in which children learn to live in society. But the case is reverse with these innocent souls who are experiencing strange reality. Psychiatrists say that childhood leaves a lifetime impact on the personality and it moulds the human nature in right or wrong direction.


“Children who are working in the streets are treated in a brutal way and they could become criminals in their future in a bid to take revenge from the society. So they should be saved from such brutal child labour” Shagufta Kiani, a professor of psychology and a human rights activist said. “For reducing the curse of child labour, we have to end poverty first which is a key factor behind it” she added.

LHW to provide help to pregnant displaced women 

04 Januarie 2011 05:10:34

LHW to provide help to pregnant displaced women

Sindh Minister for Women Development Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto has assured NGOs of provision of a Lady Health Worker (LHW) for medical advice and help of about 30 pregnant women at the IDPs Tent Village in Kemari Town.

She was addressing a ceremony at the 500 Quarter IDP Tent Village in Maripur held for distribution of winter packages by the Karachi-based children and women rights NGO, Roshni Helpline.

Roshni Helpline President Muhammad Ali told the minister of a survey conducted by the NGO that there were 32 pregnant women in the camp who did not have access to any regular medical advice and help and were on their own. The Islamabad-based NGO, Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy (PODA), runs a Women Friendly Space (WFS) and a Children Friendly Space (CFS) in collaboration with the Roshni Helpline.

The minister said she would take the matter with the health ministry and use services of her own ministry for appointment of a Lady Health Worker (LHW) for the camp for regular maternity aid of this group. The provincial minister said she would also take other matters such as stoppage of meal to IDPs, provision of potable water, Watan Cards and provision of milk for IDPs children with the relevant ministries and get them resolved on permanent basis.

Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto also met with the IDPs Action Committee members and assured them of all possible help in addressing the problems of IDPs.

The minister later visited the WFS and saw work i.e. hand embroidery, hand stitching and other work of the displaced women. The minister appreciated their talent and assured them of taking measures for development and welfare. She later distributed winter packages consisting of quilts, pillows and warm clothes among the displaced families.

Earlier, Roshni Helpline President Muhammad Ali briefed the minister on the PODA-Roshni project. He said that at the WFS, which is attended by about a 100 women on an average, women are imparted basic educational, vocational and recreational skills. Trained and skilled staff teaches them basic numeric and vocational skills such as hand embroidery, hand stitching, and cloth cutting and designing. Many displaced women have shown immense talent and skills, and have potential of becoming aspiring entrepreneurs. They exhibit their work in the 40x40 tent from time to time, where visitors appreciate their talent and express a lot of praise for them.

He said that at the space, girls are also given guidelines and training on household issues, especially those relevant to home economics. They are also given training in maintenance of hygiene and guidelines on basic health issues. They are provided an environment to spend some quality time with teachers and guides and learn different skills. They also participate in indoor as well as outdoor sports activities.

The Roshni Helpline president said that at the CFS, there are about 350 registered children. They attend the CFS from 9 am to 5 pm for non-formal educational, recreational and sport activities. From 9 to 12, they are given training in health and hygiene issues. Children are also practically taught different matters, for example, how to wash their hands. Children’s safety and protection sessions are also held.

Devastating floods 

08 Desember 2010 11:12:54

Devastating floods

Crisis far from over for children

More than four months after the worst floods in the country’s history, Unicef warns that winter will worsen the threats against children who already suffer high rates of acute respiratory infections and malnutrition.

New polio cases are spreading rapidly with 126 this year compared to 89 in 2009 -- an enormous cause for concern, especially as Pakistan had made significant strides towards eradicating polio. Pakistan is one of the four polio endemic countries in the world and low ongoing coverage in areas experiencing difficult security in the north, overcrowding and poor sanitation as a result of the floods have exacerbated the threat for children.


“This crisis is far from over. It has just evolved in very different ways from one part of Pakistan to the next and the humanitarian effort has had to adapt swiftly to reach children and women most in need as their needs change,” said Unicef’s Regional Director for South Asia Daniel Toole. “Although most people have returned to their home areas, many have returned to near total destruction -- with no homes, no crops, no food and no cash. In the north, snow has fallen and we are delivering winter clothes and supplies to help families prepare for a harsh winter, while in the south very slow receding waters have meant over a million lives are still on hold. The coming cold months will sharply increase the numbers of respiratory infections and malnutrition, two of the biggest killers of Pakistani children.”


One-fifth of Pakistan’s land area was ravaged by the monsoon floods that affected 20.3 million people. Some 10,000 schools and rural health centres were damaged by the floods and important infrastructure was destroyed or badly damaged, including water and sanitation systems, bridges and roads.

Since the early stages of the floods, Unicef has been providing clean water to an unprecedented 2.8 million people daily, and sanitation facilities to more than 1.5 million people. Unicef has partnered with WHO and the Government of Pakistan to immunise more than 9 million children against measles and polio. Nutritional supplements have reached nearly 300,000 pregnant women and mothers with young babies as well as malnourished children. Education, through Temporary Learning Centres has been restored for 106,500 children and another 104,400 women and children through Child-Friendly Spaces which aim to protect them from risks of abuse, neglect and exploitation after the floods.

In preparation for winter, Unicef has started to distribute warm children’s clothing and blankets. However, millions of families still need assistance in the form of water, medicine and nutritional supplements to survive the coming months, especially those living in the north of the country as harsh winter conditions approach.

Unicef needs $82.1 million if it is to continue with its life-saving and recovery programmes in Pakistan. In addition, to expand urgently needed support to improve widespread malnutrition and to stop polio spreading, additional urgent funds are required for continued needs in 2011.

“The scale of this remains massive. The impact of the floods in Pakistan will be felt for years to come, so the more we can do now the quicker children and families will recover, and that means urgently needed funds to do our job better,” Toole said.

Issuance of CNICs to eunuchs 

08 Desember 2010 11:08:20

Issuance of CNICs to eunuchs

NGOs sound caution over condition of medical testing

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and representative bodies of transgender community have sounded caution over imposition of a precondition for medical testing and obtaining certificates from the Ministry of Social Welfare, saying that the proposed exercise could potentially lead to harassment and exploitation of eunuchs.

The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has announced to include third section for eunuchs in the registration forms for issuance of computerised national identity cards (CNICs). All eunuchs would have to get individual certificates based on a medical test from the Ministry of Social Welfare proving their eligibility as sexual minority members. The medical test would include in some cases X-rays and endoscopies.

The Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) -- a Karachi-based representative body of eunuchs -- has rejected the demand. GIA President Bindia Rana said the organisation would not accept the condition. “We didn’t accept undergoing a medical investigation before and we maintain the same position now,” Bindia said.

Almas Bobby, president of the Islamabad-based organisation, Shemale Rights of Pakistan (SRP), said the condition to get individual certificates from social welfare department could potentially be a source of harassment. Bobby said that the SRP welcomes the announcement under the Supreme Court instructions, but will always reject the condition of medical testing as a prerequisite for the issuance of CNICs to their community members.

The president of the Roshni Helpline, a Karachi-based organisation working for the rights of children, women and eunuchs, said that eunuchs are citizens of Pakistan and it is a fundamental right of every citizen to have a national identity card. This is their fundamental right and a legal requirement for all citizens to get identification documentation. Filling of the sexual representation section should be left for the individuals who know themselves better. I do not think mentioning in the third section as eunuchs will translate into exploitation of national resources and overstepping of someone’s rights or any threat to national security.”

He said the basic issue was that an ID should be issued to every citizen of Pakistan. “There are about 17,000 eunuchs in Karachi and none of them carries an identity card. A person without an ID card can be a threat to an individual or an institution, not a person who mentions a different sexual identification,” Ali added.

32 displaced pregnant women prone to multiple risks 

01 Desember 2010 12:27:00 nm

32 displaced pregnant women prone to multiple risks

KARACHI, December 1, 2010: Over 30 pregnant women at Musharraf Colony’s relief camp are prone to pregnancy related multiple risks sans any immediate maternity advice or help available to them within the proximity.

A tent-to-tent survey of 500 Quarters’ IDP Tent Village at Gulshan-e-Benazir, Kemari Town, conducted by the Karachi-based child rights organisation, Roshni Helpline, has revealed that there are 32 IDP women who are in different stages of pregnancy. All of them are living without any regular advice or help, let alone any medical checkup or treatment.

The Helpline has become aware of a case in which a woman has already suffered miscarriage. The family of that woman had hailed from Shahdadpur, and now shifted back to their hometown. According to information gathered by neighbouring women she had suffered miscarriage in absence of an immediate maternity help at the camp. She was shifted to Murshad Hospital and delivered a dead child, but luckily her life was saved.

According to the report of the survey as many as seven women are in end stage of their pregnancy and in normal circumstance would have been hospitalised for continued care and treatment. According to information available, one woman has even crossed the due date and could be considered a very critical case.

Other breakdown showed eight women in eighth months of their pregnancy, six in seven months and rest of them were in early stage. “In normal circumstances we would have been taking advice and help of qualified gynaecologists or at least of general physicians, but no advice or help is available to us here, neither we can afford,” they said.

Roshni Helpline President Muhammad Ali said these women deserve proper advice and care of a trained doctor or of a lady health worker, at least. He said the survey was aimed at sensitising the issue so that these women could get help from any circle.

Roshni Helpline is running a women-friendly space and four children-friendly spaces under a psychosocial programme at the camp. Under the programme, women are imparted basic vocational, educational and recreational skills, and are also extended advice on their and their children’s safety and protection. The organisation is operational partner with the Islamabad-based rural women welfare organisation -- Potohar Organisations for Development Advocacy (PODA).

“We try to help out these women and children and resolve their immediate and small grievances and highlight those which are out of our jurisdiction or resources so that they  get due attention of concerned stakeholders,” said Muhammad Raza, child protection officer of PODA Psychosocial Programme.

According to independent estimates, nearly 30,000 women die in Pakistan each year due to pregnancy-related complications, and in absence of help any woman could be a potential victim.

Despite the fact that there are some basic health clinics in Musharraf Colony and Maripur, these women cannot get any help for reasons that they are on their own and unfamiliar with nearby localities. “We cannot go anywhere alone because we do not know any one around and going out of our camps is a potential question of our own safety and security,” a number of women said. “The most important issue is that we are poor people, who have lost all our belongings in the floods, so who is going to pay for our medical bills.”

Roshni Helpline have appealed to the federal and provincial health ministries to order arrangement of a weekly or fortnightly visits of lady health workers to each IDP camps. “The best is that federal and provincial governments make a permanent arrangement for each camp,” said Muhammad Ali. “But if there are some issues, they should arrange frequent and regular visits of Lady Health Workers to provide these women a continued advice and help so that the question of risks is eliminated and these women feel safe and healthy.”

He also appealed to the relevant social sector organisations to offer their support and services to these women. “Our motive is to bring the issue into limelight and all organisations working in this field should come forward and help IDP pregnant women,” he said.

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