June Issue 2014

By | Books | Published 10 years ago

Does an adult woman have the right to choose her life partner? What are the laws regarding a woman’s right to inheritance? How can a victim of domestic abuse receive protection? How can a rape victim get justice? These questions, along with several others, are answered in a handbook published by Inner Wheel Club Karachi Metropolitan.

Titled ‘Questions Pakistani Women Want to Ask:Khawateen kay Haqooq’, the book’s purpose is to give women answers and support for the most common problems they encounter. The handbook also includes pro-women laws that exist in the Constitution of Pakistan regarding their rights.

With texts in English and Urdu, the handbook consists of three main features. First, it provides answers to 17 questions addressing women’s rights under marriage, property rights, sexual harassment in the work place, forced prostitution, acid throwing, eve teasing and sexual harassment on social media. The second feature includes a list of emergency contact numbers for hospitals, police stations and relief centres throughout Karachi. Lastly, it serves to inspire, highlighting the achievements of seven exceptional Pakistani women such as Justice (R) Majida Rizvi, TV actor and activist Sania Saeed, rape survivor Mukhataran Mai and philanthropist Parveen Rehman.

“Due to a lack of awareness, most women are under the impression that laws benefitting them are non-existent in Pakistan,” explained Niilofur Farrukh, President of Inner Wheel Club Karachi Metropolitan. Now women can read about these laws, understand them and assist those who need support. “The handbook is a vehicle,” said Farrukh — the goal is for the message to circulate among as many women as possible. The club worked with organisations such as Aurat Foundation and War Against Rape to gather information related to the most pressing questions that, according to them, women in distress seek answers to.

Since some laws regarding women vary from province to province, the club decided to include Sindh-specific legislation in the handbook. In addition, most women from interior Sindh tend to seek relief in Karachi, according to Farrukh, hence the emergency contacts included in the book are for Karachi only.

The handbook will be distributed for free in various locations such as offices, colleges and factories where women are easier targets. Out of the 10,000 copies that were initially printed, the Inner Wheel Club Karachi Metropolitan had managed to distribute nearly 3,000 within a week of its launch. The club is also hoping to make the book available to as many people as possible — this means translating it into Sindhi, Punjabi and other languages, and updating some of the laws according to the area it caters to. Farrukh is hoping to make the book available digitally as well as turning it into an audiobook.

This initiative not only provides women with a concise explanation of what their rights are, but it urges the everyday Pakistani woman to step forward, speak up and take action.

This article was originally published in Newsline’s June 2014 issue.