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Friday, July 22, 2005

Nazish Asghar



SOUTH ASIA WOMEN CONFRONT TREND OF VIOLENCE

Shameful stories in recent days of horrific rapes in Pakistan and India, murders in Afghanistan and an impoverished Bangladeshi mother offering to sell an eye have all underscored how far South Asia has to go to give downtrodden womenfolk justice. Delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were meeting in Islamabad this week for a biennial ministerial conference to review how efforts over the past decade to promote the women's agenda was faring in this region.

These women also feel that men use religion to beat and abuse women. A U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) prepared for the Islamabad meeting noted violence against women in South Asia was on the rise, based on cases reported to the police. For the past week Pakistani newspapers have highlighted the case of 17-year-old Nazish Asghar, who threatened self-immolation unless the government ensured there would be no protection for men, including police officers, she has accused of rape. While Pakistan recently introduced legislation to outlaw honour killings, it has still to review Islamic hudud laws governing rape. Meanwhile, these women feel that enlightenment must prevail if women are to be given a chance of justice in this society.

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