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Zardari appeals for more female judges in Pakistan’s courts

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Aisha Farooq
WVoN co-editor

On Friday, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari announced his decision to appoint more women judges in the nation’s judiciary courts.

He made the announcement at a ceremony in Islamabad for the ‘One Million Signature Campaign‘, which pledges to educate and consequently eradicate violence against women.

Speaking in front of female parliamentarians, NGO representatives and foreign diplomats at the event, Zardari claimed the current government had done much over the last four years to promote women’s issues by passing a number of women’s rights bills.

These include the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010, the amended Criminal Law Act 2010 (amended a further two times in 2011), Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act 2011, and the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Act 2011.

He believes that the government is following the dreams of former Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007.

Zardari said that Bhutto, his former wife, had long advocated the empowerment of women across Pakistan and he desired to continue her legacy.

He said that the 2011 Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act was a highly successful way of offering financial and legal resources for women in difficulty.

In addition, the 26 Shahid Benazir Bhutto Centres open across the country were an immediate relief for those women who were helpless victims of violence.

“The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), as the poverty alleviation programme, has been designed to empower women,” Zardari said. “And millions of women have been receiving assistance under this programme.”

He said that true female empowerment was only possible if women were given equal social, economic and legal opportunities as men, to prevent their exploitation.

“There is a need to bring positive change in the attitudes of men towards women,” he added.

Zardari believes exploitation and harm against women is fundamentally against basic human rights. He said his government had made this a high priority.

“The 2012 National Commission for Human Rights Act has also been enacted to monitor the overall human rights situation. However, a lot still needs to be done,” he admitted.

It is thought that by appointing more female judges in court, a fairer and more sympathetic attitude towards female victims can be maintained.

Zardari became the millionth signatory at the campaign event concreting his stance as an advocator against violence towards women.

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