ISLAMABAD: A two-day regional conference on gender and policing began on Tuesday at the Islamabad National Library. It was organised by Rozan, a non-governmental organization, in collaboration with the Ministry of Human rights and the Islamabad Police.
The conference was titled 21st Century and Policing in South Asia, Response towards Gender Based Violence: Challenges and Prospects and urged that fresh legislation be introduced in all S Asian countries in order to improve the situation of women.
Speakers at the conference stressed for the effective and proper implementation of legislation that would stop gender based violence. “Education and gender equality is essential for 90 million women of Pakistan,” said Roberk Kvile, Norwegian Ambassador to Pakistan.
Kvile felt that if more women enrolled in the police, the issues faced by women could be dealt with more effectively. According to the Aurat Foundation, in 2009 more than 9,000 women faced gender based violence in Pakistan and about 1,277 cases of domestic violence were reported.
Similarly, the Alliance against Sexual Harassment, reported that women of all ages were raped and that 2010 had seen a rise in the number of cases reported.
Speaking on the occasion, Syed Kaleem Imam, Inspector General of Islamabad Police, said that training police inspectors was important. This would in turn, he said, make them more able to deal with women related issues. “There is a need to change attitudes which can only be done through adopting a proper strategy,” Imam said.
Special Women Cells were being established so that women are able to report crimes against them in a more comfortable environment.
Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani, Federal Minister for Human Rights, said that human rights violations are an ‘everyday' occurrence in Pakistan. “Unfortunately in other provinces the police are reduced to an instrument in the hands of feudal and tribal chiefs who misuse their power,” Gillani said.
IA Rehman, Secretary General of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said that necessary steps had not been taken for gender responsive policing and the measures taken in the region were insufficient. “More women are needed in the police force,” he said.
Babar Bashir, Managing Director of Rozan, said that police training schools were now teaching policeman how to better handle gender related issues, but this was just the first step. Hina Jillani, renowned human rights activist was also present at the conference and said that violence against women could not be seen in isolation within a society where human dignity and rights were regularly violated.