We Strongly Denounce FSC's Declaration on Women's Protection Act

Number of civil society organizations and human rights activists jointly issued this statement prior to a Press Conference, held in Islamabad on Dec 24, 2010. They expressed their strong concerns on the recent declaration by the Federal Shariat Court, which itself is a parallel judicial structure and is a point of contention between progressive sections of civil society and the state in Pakistan. In the press conference they’re going to announce countrywide movement to abolish parallel judicial structures as well as a demonstration in Islamabad on Dec 30, 2010 to register their resistance to the right wing religious sections who are against the repeal / Amendment to black laws of Blasphemy in Pakistan. Civil society is also determined to support MNA Bushra Gohar’s and MNA Sherry Rehman’s Bills for Blasphemy Laws Repeal and Amendment respectively.

Press Conferencein Islamabad

Talking to media L to R: Sarwar Bar, Naeem Mirza, Samina Nazeer, Marvi Sirmed and Arifa Mazhar

We, the members of civil society, express our serious reservations about the Federal Shariat Court’s attempt to revert the Women’s Protection Act’s Clause 11, 25, 28 and 29 back to Hudood Ordinances. Another alarming aspect of the FSC judgment is its attempt to expand its jurisdiction and undermine constitutional jurisdiction of High Courts and the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

We demand from the government to immediately file a petition against this Declaration. We also demand that the Parliament immediately initiate legislative measures to not only repeal all discriminatory laws against women and religious minorities (such as Blasphemy Laws, Hudood Ordinances, Qisas & Diyat and all clauses under Sections 298 of PPC that single out and persecute a religious minority) but also to abolish all parallel judicial systems.

We would like to state that women’s and human rights groups struggled for more than twenty-seven years against the controversial Hudood Ordinances. A plethora of evidence was gathered through research to show the anti-women nature of Hudood Ordinances and their massive misuse particularly Zina Ordinance. Thousands of women languished in jails for years under Zina Ordinance. The acquittal rate of women charged under this law — over ninety percent – indicates the mala fide and false nature of most of the charges against them.

In response to the consistent demand for the repeal of Hudood Ordinances, Parliament finally introduced the Women’s Protection Act in 2006 to redress the violation of women’s rights under these laws. The recent study of National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has shown that Women’s Protection Act has brought tremendous relief to women’s lives. Currently there’s hardly any woman who is in prison under the Hudood Ordinance.

We regret that Federal Shariat Court has attempted to reverse the gains made by Women’s Protection Act. We believe that the institution of Council of Islamic Ideology and parallel judicial structure of Federal Shariat & Appellate Shariat Courts was part the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq’s political agenda to use religion to legitimize his own dictatorial rule. It is regrettable that despite the consistent demand from civil society organizations and women’s and human rights movements for the repeal of all forms of parallel judicial system, successive civil governments failed to take any concrete action in this regard. We strongly demand that all citizens of this country should be treated as equal, under one law and one judicial system.

In view of the history of Federal Shariat Court giving anti-women decisions and blocking the protective legislation for women and religious minorities, we demand that the government should immediately challenge the decision of Federal Shariat Court in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and abolish Federal Shariat Court and parallel legal systems.  We also demand that the Constitutional Reform Committee of the Parliament and Supreme Court look into the serious constitutional implications of the FSC verdict.

Talking to press, R to L: Arifa mazhar, Marvi Sirmed, Samina Nazeer, Naeem Mirza, Sarwar Bari, Shabana Arif, Rehana Hashmi, Vleri Khan

We express our resolve to frustrate all attempts to reverse the gains of Women’s Protection Act. We hereby announce the launch of a nationwide movement to dismantle all parallel judicial systems in Pakistan. We call upon all the democratic and progressive forces in the country to join the citizens’ movement to safeguard the rights of people of Pakistan and to preserve the vision of Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan in which the state would not use religion to run its business.

From:

Organizations & Alliances:

1.      Insani Haqooq Ittehad

2.      Women Action Forum

3.      Aurat Foundation

4.      Rozan

5.      Pattan

6.      Sangi

7.      PODA

8.      SDPI

9.      Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA)

10.   CPDI

11.   PILER

12.   Shirkat Gah

13.   The Researchers

14.   Sanjan Nagar Public Education Trust (SNPET)

15.   Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE)

16. National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP)

Human Rights Activists:

1.          Farzana Bari

2.         Naeem Mirza

3.          Marvi Sirmed

4.          Beena Sarwar

5.          Peter Jacob

6.          Harris Khalique

7.          Salima Hashmi

8.          Khawar Mumtaz

9.          Karamat Ali

10.          Fauzia Yazdani

11.       Sirmed Manzoor

12.       Babar Ayaz

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73 thoughts on “We Strongly Denounce FSC's Declaration on Women's Protection Act

  1. Monainza says:

    Dear Members

    I really appreciate the collective initutive of the organization and activist for the amendements of the women rights, and i want to became part of the struggle.

    Regards
    Monainza

    Like

  2. Ahmed Ashfaq says:

    I fully support any petition that is to be sent to the CJP regardless of who puts it together.I am also amazed at the reaction of the Supreme Court Bar President. I expected Asma Jahangir to be leading this issue, instead I find her reaction to be hand in glove with that of the ruling party. Asma should have been the one to draft the petition to the CJP, instead we find that Nasim Zehra has done this and I hear that Marvi Sirmed wants to do it as well. I think that Asma Jahangir has political aspirations and she is playing it safe so that after her stint as SCBA President is over, she can join the PPP or another political party. It seems odd that she should not be taking the right stand where this issue is concerned and seems to be supporting the stand of Zardari and his ministers. I also noted the lukewarm reaction that transpired at the death of Salman Taseer from her side. Seems like a sell out to me. Ahmed Ashfaq

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  3. javid asghar says:

    I don’t know what is your hidden agenda? Are you asking for human rights or abolishing Islamic identity and laws which are demanded by majority of the people of this country? If we believe in democracy than rule of majority should be respected? Now if a few dozen people gather around and start chanting slogans against any law and demand that to be changed at once does not seem right to me. Firstly we need to demand education and put our efforts in educating people no matter how small level we start. Keep pushing for democracy and we must respect democratic values ourselves and never ignore the fact that majority rules. Instead of forcing our point of view and claiming that this must be happening as we wish why not participate in political system and let the political system have the high level of knowledge and skills from civil society?

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    • Nuzhat Kidvai says:

      @javid asghar,
      I don’t know what is your hidden agenda? Are you asking for human rights or abolishing Islamic identity and laws……?
      If Zia-ul-Haq had not existed, would we not have been Muslims? Is our Islamic identity & laws dependent on Zia? Did we become Muslims by following and believing in all the laws Zia got made & passed? The laws are man-made (by a dictator’s supporters) & this is why they are so faulty that thousands of women’s lives were destroyed by being dragged through jails & courts for years on end. Allah enjoins upon us to use our intelligence.
      Would God’s laws have been so faulty that thousands of innocent women would suffer? Is Allah unjust? Being a Muslim I would not want Islam to be wronged or Allah’s name to be attached to a law that is made by men.
      Any one who emphatically supports all that Zia did, I could very well ask what is their hidden agenda?

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      • javid asghar says:

        @Nuzhat Kidvai,
        I did not mention Zia or any law made or introduced by Zia. I just asked very simple questions that what you want out of this outcry. This is a democratic country or at least heading towards democratic values. There is a constitution and a process to amend it. Let’s all obey the rule of law and follow a democratic process and respect the majority, views. Now in your view everyone is dictator’s supporter which is certainly not right.
        Islamic law and values and Zia’s rule are two different subjects and please don’t mix them up. In my view Zia has done more damage to Islam than any secular ruler could have. Why people use Zia as smoke screen to demand their own wishes.
        If someone is a Muslim and believes in Allah, his Prophets, the holy Quran and Sunnah than it becomes very easy to understand what respect and rights a woman has under Islamic law . Woman got far more superior and respectful position than western society and so called “liberal “.
        We should fight to stop wrong use of Islamic laws, wrong use of any other law but please unless there is a change in any law through a set process don’t denounce any part of law because it will lead to a lawless society .
        As regards to FSC,s decision about “women protection act “ is concerned there were plenty of loop holes in it and that was also made man so it can be reviewed by a process which is set under country’s constitution.
        What is difference between a person carrying a gun and saying I don’t respect any law and a person carrying a pen and saying the same????
        If educated people start denouncing law than uneducated will go even further and still my question is
        “what is the hidden agenda?”

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