LAHORE – The world is going to mark the International Women Day today (Friday) with theme ‘Time to Action to End Violence against Women.’

A surge in crimes – from gender inequality to honour killing – against women has been ringing alarms in the country though champions of women’s rights raising their voice since 1975 when the UN sanctioned the day.

Politicians, both in power and in opposition, leap to send their messages on the day and the NGOs take to the streets for the same. Though legislation to protect women’s rights have been okayed into law, such crimes go unabated. Despite laws like women protection bill, acid control and crime bill, protection against harassment at workplace bill, law of inheritance and CEDAW convention, the rise in violence against women has been reported in past year.

According to police, a total of 150 incidents of acid throwing on women had been reported in 2012. “Every fifth woman faces humiliating attitude and torture of her husband, 95 per cent face domestic violence and 97 per cent get no share in their inherited properties,” police added. Average one lac women were killed in the name of honour during past few years, they held.

Political parties and social organisations arranged meetings, press conferences, seminars and held discussions to change the social status of female on Thursday. The Jamaat-e-Islami (Women Wing) announced its four point agenda for the protection of women rights at Lahore Press Club.

“Women consist almost half of the country’s population and they must be provided their rights in the light of Islamic teachings, so that they are able to play their due role in nation building,” held JI Secretary General Liaqat Baloch and the party’s women wing chief Dr Rukhsana Jabeen and Begum Samiha Raheel Qazi at the press conference.

South Asia Free Media Association (Safma) screened the famous documentary ‘Saving Face’ by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and later held discussions on women rights. Aurat Foundation held a meeting on the same. HomeNet Pakistan held discussion regarding the protection of the rights of home-based workers in a local hotel.

“There is no law for the protection of home-based workers rights,” said Working Women Organization Executive Director Aima Mahmood while addressing a meeting. She informed that around one million people were home-based workers in the City and 80 per cent among them were females.

“Yes nothing is changed in our society regarding women empowerment despite efforts of the civil society, media and other stakeholders. The women who are economically, socially and traditionally dependent on males and have fewer opportunities to education, employment and other facilities, become soft target of the violence,” she held.

Kashf Foundation Managing Director Roshaneh Zafar said real socio-economic change in the country could become a reality only when economic development amongst women in the country was promoted. “Grass-root level change in attitudes towards women’s economic rights becomes a key variable. Change can only be possible through the concentrated efforts of innumerable agents and stakeholders amongst varied segments of the society,” she added.

Furthermore, various political parties including the PML-N, the PPP, the PTI and others are announcing women package in their manifesto for next election today (Friday). Working Women Organization is arranging a gathering of working females in Rehmat Town besides the Punjab government’s Women Development is organising a seminar on “Women Empowerment – A Dream Turning into Reality” at Punjabi Complex Ghaddafi Stadium. “The future of Pakistan lies in the empowerment of its women. If these women are given adequate economic and social opportunities, then a significant improvement in Pakistan’s socio-economic landscape becomes inevitable,” said a Punjab University professor.

“Women should be provided conducive environment in playing their important role for establishing peace in the country.”  Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson Zohra Yusuf said in a statement on the eve of International Women's Day. The HRCP also expressed solidarity with the women who were suffering because of growing violence and various forms of discrimination, she said. The chairperson said the rise in ghastly incidents, such as sectarian violence witnessed in the form of cowardly bomb blasts had put the women in jeopardy. The women affected by such atrocities need assistance in various aspects of their life to fully recover from the horrors caused by such incidents, she added. "Not only do the women require financial compensation to run their households, especially if the traditional male figure head has passed away due to the incident, they also require psychological rehabilitation and care in institutions specialising in the care of women traumatised in such violent acts", she viewed. The HRCP urged the govt to take concrete steps to address the women issues.