Sachet for stronger law to eliminate dowry violence


Celebrating the first ever National Women’s Day on February 12 (today), the Society for Advancement of Community, Health, Education & Training (Sachet) launched two posters with the Fight Against Dowry (FAD) planners here Wednesday at Sachet Gallery.

The first poster primarily targeted the Pakistani intellectuals, who demonstrate a strong elitism and elitist consensus that in turn is one of the many subtle faces of patriarchy on issues of dowry, while the second poster was about challenging the elitist consensus on dowry issues including denial by intellectual elites on dowry violence.

The poster launch and a dialogue on the occasion were attended by serious development practitioners from public and private sectors.

Fight Against Dowry (FAD), a five-year voluntary advocacy project, was launched in 2001 by Agehi Resource Centre, founded by Dr Rakshinda Perveen as a technical wing of Sachet, while in 2003, the Centre launched the Fight Against Dowry Advocacy Network (FADAN), working specifically on legislation, media and community.

Dr Rakshinda Perveen, Founder FADAN, while briefing the history of the National Women’s Day on the occasion, said it was Zia-ul-Haq’s regime in which women raised their voices against the government’s Hudood Ordinance and Qanoon-e-Shahadat and were arrested on this day.

“Contrary to obvious forms of gender based violence like rape, acid throwing, Karo Kari and child sexual abuse, dowry as a form of violence is yet to be accepted and understood by social activists, researchers and policymakers in Pakistan,” she said.

Dr Rakshinda said since the last 10 years, her organisation has been working for domestic violence and dowry, adding that it was only last year that the World Bank in its report mentioned and appreciated the works of Aurat Foundation and Sachet.

“It is quite surprising to witness the silence of media and civil society on this issue while last year, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) suggested the government not to ban dowry, as it is a tradition and would open more doors for police to take bribes,” she said.

Dr Rakhshinda said that policymakers should formulate a more effective legislation to eliminate dowry violence, which is breeding in the name of culture and tradition. She hoped the decision makers would ensure the inclusion of a spectrum of dowry violence in the final version of the bill titled ‘Domestic Violence Against Women and Children (Prevention and Protection) Act 2007’ (the existing draft does not mention dowry) that obligates the State to take action against the persecution of women and children caused by gender based violence. “Most of the times, dowry violence remains hidden behind domestic violence,” she added.