NCSW continues ‘working’ without members
<>* Justice (r) Majida Rizvi says honour killing bill will fail to address piroblem
By Abid Butt and Anjum Gill
LAHORE: The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) is functioning without most of its members for the last 14 months, sources said.
“Eighteen members were nominated to the commission when it was formed in 2000, but 16 retired in September 2003. Since then no new members have been appointed,” they said.
The Commission’s chairperson, Justice (r) Majida Rizvi, and two members, Arfa Sayeda Zehra from Punjab and Khalida Shamsi from Azad Kashmir, will retire in March 2005.
“We have asked the federal government to appoint new members,” said Justice (r) Rizvi while addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on Sunday.
She said according to a handout by the Ministry of Women Development, the provincial governments failed to nominate members for the commission as per the criteria laid down by the government. She urged the provincial governments to nominate members as soon as possible.
“If the nominations are not made soon the commission will be rendered invalid,” said Ms Zehra who was also present in the press conference. Ms Rizvi said that the new honour killing bill would fail to address the problem, as the state did not have the status of wali-prosecution in the eyes of law.
She also expressed her reservations on “Compound ability of the offence” in the bill.
“The compound ability of the crime and its settlement has been left to the direction of the courts. Offenders are often influential and rich people and they can settle the issue in the way they want to, “Ms Rizvi. However, she said a positive aspect of the bill was that the government had recognised honour killing as a crime and included it in Section 299.
Another positive aspect of the bill, she said, was the amendment in Section 310, which held that using women as Badl-e-Sulh was a crime punishable by 4-10 years imprisonment. However the lacuna of wali-prosecutor would persist, she said.
The amendment in the blasphemy law would not be effective because it would not be difficult for the parties concerned to produce two witnesses before the police to accuse someone of this crime, she said. She said that that an agreement had been signed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to set up Policy Analyses, Policy Advocacy and Policy Research units in the commission.
She said the commission had reviewed the Citizenship Act and the Hudood Ordinance and sent recommendations to the government.
Justice Rizvi said that the commission had demanded a repeal of the Hudood Ordinance.
“These laws were promulgated through ordnances and were never brought before the parliament,” she said. Ms Rizvi said the NSCW was working on inheritance law and had also recommended changes in labour laws after conducting a research on home based women workers.
“Although women’s right to inheritance is guaranteed by the Holy Quran, the majority of women are denied this right. She said that the National Database and Registration Authority was one of the major sources of data collection.