Lahore   -   Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan said that violence against women is a grave violation of human rights.

The chief justice was addressing the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop on gender-based violence cases held at Punjab Judicial Academy on Thursday. The workshop was held in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank and the Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan.

Addressing the participants, the chief justice said, “Violence against women is a grave violation of human rights. Occurring in public and private places, it has many forms, ranging from domestic violence to harassment at work place, assault, sexual violence and gender-related killing. Its impact spans from immediate to long-term multiple physical, sexual and mental consequences for women and girls, including death.”

He further said that it negatively affects women’s general well-being and prevents women from fully participating in society. Violence not only has negative consequences for women but also for their families, the community and country, he maintained.

He said, “In our country, the social protection of women is enshrined in Article 25 and 34 of the Constitution and affirmed in the country’s status as a signatory of various regional and international treaties seeking to protect women’s rights and promote gender equality. Moreover, the State has taken progressive steps to legislate on various issues pertaining to women and their rights such as reviving family laws like a woman’s right to divorce, marry, vote, and work. We have several laws and policies against various forms of violence.”

He added that challenges remained however in implementing these measures the question was how to eliminate it. Gender-based violence is an extremely complex phenomenon, deeply rooted in gender-based power relations, sexuality, self-identity, and social institutions. Any strategy to eliminate gender violence must therefore confront the underlying cultural beliefs and social structures that perpetuate it, he said.  To be effective, such a strategy would have to draw on a wide range of expertise and resources, both governmental and non-governmental, he said.

“A strategy to prevent violence must also promote nonviolent means to resolve conflict. Passing laws to criminalise violence within family relationships—in the same way that societies criminalize violence between strangers—is an important way to redefine the frontiers of acceptable behavior. Passing or amending laws on paper is not enough to ensure change, but their strict implementation can be a considerable asset in helping women to protect themselves from violence,” he said.

Strengthening his viewpoint, he also quoted Islam, saying “Islamic teachings also effectively answer this issue. Islam generally improved the status of women. At a time when female children were buried alive in Arabia and women were considered transferable property, Islam honours women in society by elevating them and protecting them with unprecedented rights. Islam gave women the right to education, to marry someone of their choice, to retain their identity after marriage, to divorce, to work, to own and sell property, to inherit, Lo seek protection of the law, to vote, and to participate in civic and political engagement.

Any form of emotional, physical, or psychological abuse is prohibited in Islam and the improper treatment of women is no Exception to this rule. Indeed, there is no teaching in Islam, when studied in its complete context. which condones any kind of domestic violence. Islam clearly disallows any form of oppression or abuse in this regard.”

Essential reforms are needed in the social, economic, and judicial sectors to foster the creation of a socio-cultural and economic environment that is conducive to a woman’s safety and autonomy, he said. There must be a fundamental change in societal attitudes, and particularly in men’s perception of women’s status, he stressed.