UN Women baseline study identifies gaps in services, justice delivery to women
Date: Thursday, August 24, 2017
Author: Myra Imran
Islamabad, Pakistan — Women’s access to justice, services, and safe spaces requires long-term advocacy, evidence-based provincial strategies on zero tolerance for Violence Against Women (VAW), strengthened service delivery mechanisms, and capacity building of law enforcement agencies.
These recommendations were released on August 24th, by the UN Women as part of a baseline study and the initial phase of a project - ‘Ending Violence Against Women though Access to Justice, Services and Safe Public Places’ – funded by the United States Department of State.
UN Women studied five districts from three provinces of Pakistan with high rates of VAW – Quetta in Balochistan, Rawalpindi in Punjab, Karachi, Khairpur and Dadu in Sindh. Through interventions in these districts, the project aims to train and build capacity of some 2,000 male and female police, prosecutors, judges, and lawyers who comprise the law enforcement and service providers dealing with VAW.
With the financial assistance from the U.S. Department of State, UN Women will establish four Women Protection Units, where women can access legal information and referral services. Protocols and referral mechanisms will help each district coordinate between law enforcement and other members of the justice sector.
Speaking at the event on Thursday, the U.S. Embassy’s Gregory Schiffer said: “The United States shares with UN Women a vision of a criminal justice system that is accessible to and supportive of women; and of Pakistani women and girls who have confidence that the system is in place to protect them and that services are available to support them.” He added, “No country is immune from discrimination; and it is our obligation as an international community to work to eliminate it.”
In his welcome remarks, Country Representative for UN Women Jamshed Kazi, stated that the right of women and girls to live free of violence depends not just on the laws protecting their human rights but, also in the efficacy of its implementation.
“Whilst the legal framework to tackle violence against women has been considerably strengthened in recent years by the Government of Pakistan, the judicial response to violence must be immediate, coordinated and effective so that crimes are punished and justice is secured”, Mr. Kazi added.
He stressed that more must be done where women are informed of their legal rights and supported to navigate the complexities legal system as well as changing patriarchal mindsets, including through deeper engagement of male champions of gender equality within law enforcement and local communities.
About the project, ‘Ending Violence Against Women though Access to Justice, Services and Safe Public Places’: The project aims at strengthening the capacity of the law enforcement and service provider chain dealing with Violence against Women (VAW) through key interventions in five high-risk districts – Quetta in Balochistan, Rawalpindi in Punjab, Karachi, Khairpur and Dadu in Sindh.