Women activists slam police for preventing protests
LAHORE: Human rights activists on Tuesday criticised the police for preventing processions on International Women’s Day.
Hina Jilani of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said women had a right to stage rallies on the day but the police had usurped this right. Ms Jilani said the public in every democracy had a right to participate in such rallies, but the city police had usurped this right.
She dismissed the government’s plea that the rallies would have disturbed traffic on The Mall, saying traffic was not more important than International Women’s Day, which was celebrated across the world.
Ms Jilani said the government could not stop the women’s movement and should have learnt its lesson from 1983, when even a police baton charge could not disperse women protestors.
Shazia Khan of the Punjab Non Government Organisation Coordination Council and Youth Commission for Human Rights criticised the city police, saying its acts had shown that Pakistani men still could not accept women’s emancipation.
Farooq Tariq of the Labour Party Pakistan said the behaviour of the police on Monday had proved that the government had double standards. He said Sehba Musharraf, the president’s wife, attended two Women’s Day seminars in Islamabad, but Lahore police did not permit women to stage a single rally on THe Mall Road. Mr Tariq said Race Course Deputy Superintendent of Police Azmat Gondal harassed them.
Many women organisations had arranged processions from the Lahore Press Club to The Mall on Monday to mark Women’s Day, but the police blocked the marches at the press club. Organisations like the Women Workers Help Line, All-Pakistan Minorities Alliance and Workers Rights Alliance could only hold demonstrations and display banners and placards outside the press club. —Staff Report