10th December 2020, Islamabad – The Ministry of Human Rights in collaboration with UN Women held an event at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Centre for Women to commemorate Human Rights Day and mark the end to 16 days of activism campaign against gender-based violence. The theme for the event was “Strengthening Access to Justice for Survivors.”
Notably, the event featured the inauguration of a new computer lab at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Centre for Women by Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari. Speaking at the event, the Minister emphasized the three areas of focus of the Ministry of Human Rights i.e. on overcoming gaps in legislation, strengthening implementation, and increasing awareness about human rights.
Dr Mazari emphasized the importance of increasing reporting on the Ministry’s 1099 human rights helpline and application. She also spoke about the new Anti-Rape (Investigation & Trial) Ordinance 2020, which institutes an expansion of the definition of rape; harsher punishments for sex offenders; the establishment of special courts and anti-rape crisis cells, additional protections for victims and witnesses, as well as importantly, the prohibition of the use of the 2 finger test, in order to institute greater protection for women and children in Pakistan.
One of the survivors residing at the shelter, also addressed the audience at the event. She spoke about the significance of increasing communication and awareness about laws and facilities available to survivors of gender based violence, as well as increasing opportunities for vocational training as well as psychological counselling.
The event also marked the end of the Ministry of Human Rights’16 Days of Activism Campaign on women’s fundamental rights. The campaign was geared towards raising awareness about women’s rights through a series of short informational videos that cover important topics including sexual harassment, rape, the marriage contract, filing an FIR and women’s inheritance. The films have been developed in collaboration with the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), the European Union in Pakistan, and Sharmeen Obaid Chinnoy (SOC) Films.
The films have been broadcasted widely across social media through live watch parties that will be conducted through-out the 16 days of activism from 25th November 2020 to 10th December 2020. The films have also been disseminated to numerous Colleges and Universities across Pakistan, as well as amongst NGOs and the Civil Society members to increase outreach. Several engaging radio shows have also been conducted with leading lawyers and human rights experts, to generate greater awareness around these issues and stimulate discussion and dialogue at the grassroots level.