8 March 2017
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)held a conference “opening up spaces for women human rights defenders” in Islamabad. Among others, KishwarNaheed, MarviSirmed, FauziaSaeed, Mangla Sharma, Tahira Abdullah, Farieha Aziz, SheemaKermani, I. A.Rehman, and Harris Khalique spoke at the event.
The participants at the conference urged the Government to recognize the important role of women human rights defenders and provide them with a secure and equal environment to carry out their work.
A resolution adopted by the participants at the conference said:
Recognizing that human rights defenders include anyone working for the promotion and protection of human rights such as professional as well as non-professional human rights workers, volunteers, journalists, lawyers, academics, cultural activists and anyone else carrying out, even on an occasional basis, human rights work,
Acknowledging the valuable work of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, in promoting civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development,
Noting with deep concern that people engaged in promoting and defending human rights, including women human rights defenders, frequently face threats and harassment and suffer insecurity as a result of those activities,
Gravely concerned that women human rights defenders are at risk of and suffer from violations and abuses as any human rights defender, but in addition, can also experience gender-based violence; rape and other forms of sexual violence; harassment, verbal abuse and attacks on reputation, online and offline, by state actors, including law enforcement personnel and security forces, and state actors, such as those related to family, communityand outlawed forums like jirgas and panchayats,
Deeply concerned that historical and structural inequalities in power relations and discrimination against women, as well as various forms of extremism, have direct implications for the status and treatment of women,
Gravely concerned that impunity for violations and abuses against women human rights defenders persists owing to factors including a lack of reporting, documentation, investigation, access to justice, social barriers and constraints with regard to addressing gender-based violence, and a lack of recognition of the legitimate role of women human rights defenders, all of which entrench or institutionalize gender discrimination,
Underlining that information-technology-related violations, abuses, discrimination and violence against women, including women human rights defenders, such as online harassment, cyber-stalking, violation of privacy, censorship and the hacking of e-mail accounts, mobile phones and other electronic devices, with a view to discrediting them and/or inciting other violations and abuses against them, are a growing concern,
Stressing that respect and support for the activities of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, is essential to the overall enjoyment of human rights:
HRCP calls on the Government to:
1. Publicly acknowledge the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and development, including by publicly condemning violence and discrimination against them;
2. Ensure that human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, can perform their important role in the context of peaceful protests, and ensure that no one is subject to excessive or indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary arrest or detention, torture or ill treatment, enforced disappearance, abuse of criminal and civil proceedings, or threats of such acts;
3. Exercise due diligence in preventing violations and abuses against human rights defenders, including through practical steps to prevent stigmatization, threats, harassment and violence against women human rights defenders and in combating impunity by ensuring that those responsible for violations and abuses committed by State and non-State actors, including online, are promptly brought to justice through impartial investigations and prosecutions;
4. Strengthen and implement legal, policy and other measures to promote gender equality; promote women’s autonomy and equal participation in all spheres; and promote the full involvement and leadership in society, including in the defence of human rights;
5. Change Pakistan’s hostile attitude towards human rights defenders on international human rights forums, where Pakistan has a sorry record of either voting against or watering down resolutions that seek to protect human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders;
6. Take meaningful measures to change social and cultural patterns that are based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women, thereby addressing harmful attitudes, customs, practices and gender stereotypes that underlie and perpetuate violence against women, including women human rights defenders;
7. Adopt and implement policies and programmes that provide all human rights defenders, particularly women human rights defenders, with access to effective remedies to secure accountability for violations and abuses; and
8. Provide access to comprehensive support services for those women human rights defenders who experience violence,including shelters, psychosocial services, counselling, medical care and legal and social services.
Category: English Press Release