LAHORE: On International Women’s Day, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) joins the global call to recognize, protect and promote women’s rights. Foremost, we demand an end to gender-based violence in all its iterations—from domestic abuse, rape and so-called ‘honour’ crimes, to forced conversions, trafficking and harassment at the workplace.
The recent targeted killing of four women NGO workers in North Waziristan, the murder of two transgender persons in Gujranwala, and the brutal rape of a woman on the motorway last year should serve to remind the state that women and trans persons remain vulnerable whether at work or at home or simply for using public spaces.
Their vulnerability, however, is not a function of their gender, it is a failing of state and society alike.
HRCP expects the state to uphold women’s constitutional right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to ensure that women’s marches across Pakistan on 8 March are provided security and safe public spaces.
Above all, both the state and society must listen to and reflect on what women have to say—from lady health workers and teachers agitating for fair wages and better working conditions, to women demanding an end to impunity at missing persons camps, and farmers protesting against elite-centric projects to ‘reclaim’ land for housing developments.
Women’s rights do not exist in a vacuum. They are tied intrinsically to the vigor and wellbeing of a civilized society, one that Pakistan must honour its commitment to building without any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of sex or gender identity.