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Helping women the right way

The Sindh High Court has told the provincial government to come up with a mechanism to facilitate women seeking justice and protection by creating an autonomous department. The single bench of the Sindh High Court, consisting of Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, observed that departments like the women commission, social welfare and women development should be brought under one umbrella. In our conservative society, where the mobility of the women is a big issue, the creation of such a mechanism where they could be facilitated under one roof, and that too without much a hassle, is the need of the hour. The proposed mechanism, if realised, will not only bring relief to women seeking justice and protection, it will also help improve governance and overcome red tape.
Several departments are doing the same job of addressing women issues. The Sindh Social Welfare Department deals with social issues of women and children; The Women’s Development Department, earlier a federal entity, is another provincial department after the 18th Amendment and it has also been catering to the issues of women and children, exactly what the Social Welfare Department is doing. Similarly, Darul Amans are under the control of the Sindh Social Welfare Department whereas the Women Development Department also has similar facilities. Side by side, shelter homes for children (Darul Atfals) are also working in the province, which come under the ambit of Social Welfare Department, while sweets home fall under the Batiul Maal, a federation entity.
Too many departments doing more or less the same job, adding confusion to women’s issued, instead of becoming a helping hand for a marginal segment of society. In this context, there is one fine example of helping bring women under one roof. In 2017, the Punjab government opened a female-run Violence Against Women Center (VAWC) in Multan as part of the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act. The centre, a brainchild of Salman Sufi, provides shelter and support to women victims of physical, emotional and psychological abuse. Powered with a complaint management system, and database, the center keeps record of complaints and provides assistance such as police action, forensics and medico-legal reports, besides help from law, and Social Welfare and Prosecution departments.
The Sindh government needs to replicate the Multan VAWC to help women fight violence. The Sindh government has done landmark legislation to empower and protect women and children but measures to enhance their compliance are needed. The integration of departments and establishing VAWCs would be an appropriate step.



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