NCSW signs MoU to tackle GBV and women with disabilities

Islamabad:The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) took a significant step in combating gender-based violence (GBV) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday.

The MOU emphasises the inclusion and mainstreaming of women with disabilities in their efforts. The move comes after a recent report by the National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) revealed a staggering 63,000 cases of GBV reported in the country over the past three years, with 4,000 incidents reported in the first half of 2020 during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The report highlights that 80 per cent of these cases were related to domestic violence, with approximately 47 per cent involving domestic rape, with married women experiencing sexual abuse. In response to this alarming situation, the NCSW joined forces with STEP and other organisations, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to develop a strategy to address this pressing issue.

NCSW Secretary Khawaja Imran Raza emphasised the commitment of all relevant stakeholders and institutions to eliminate such discrimination as soon as possible. He cited the country’s endorsement of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2008, ratified in 2011, as evidence of their dedication.

The collaborative effort resulted in a transformative consultation session that engaged diverse stakeholders from government bodies, law enforcement agencies, human rights organisations, and media representatives. The session aimed to develop guidelines for GBV referral pathways tailored to meet the unique needs and circumstances of women with disabilities in Pakistan.

Zehra Kamal, a GBV expert, shared preliminary findings from the “Accessibility Assessment Study of GBV Service Providers,” providing insights for effective solutions. The consultation session facilitated by Shabana Arif from NCSW and Dilshad Pari from UNFPA aimed to create comprehensive guidelines for GBV referral pathways.

A representative from STEP expressed gratitude to all participants for their active involvement and reaffirmed STEP’s dedication to advocating for the rights and well-being of women with disabilities in Pakistan. The MoU signed by NCSW, STEP, UNFPA, and others signifies a promising collaboration towards addressing gender-based violence and supporting women with disabilities.

Published at The News on 1st August, 2023

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