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Women rights is the fight for the idea that women should have
equal rights with men. Over history, this has taken the form of gaining
property rights, the women’s suffrage, or the right of women to vote,
reproductive rights, and the right to work for equal pay.

Global commitments Women’s rights have been at the heart of a
series of international conferences that have produced significant political
commitments to women’s human rights and equality. Starting in 1975, which was
also International Women’s Year, Mexico City hosted the World Conference on the
International Women’s Year, which resulted in the World Plan of Action and the
designation of 1975–1985 as the United Nations Decade for Women. In 1980,
another international conference on women was held in Copenhagen and the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was
opened for signature. The third World Conference on Women was held in Nairobi,
with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women having
begun its work in 1982. These three world conferences witnessed extraordinary
activism on the part of women from around the world and laid the groundwork for
the world conferences in the 1990s to address women’s rights, including the
Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. In addition, the
rights of women belonging to particular groups, such as older women, ethnic
minority women or women with disabilities, 12 WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS
have been also addressed in various other international policy documents such
as the International Plans of Action on Ageing (Vienna, 1982 and Madrid, 2002),
the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (2001) and the World Program of Action concerning Disabled
Persons (1982).

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The
term ‘women empowerment’ has now become most debatable issue in the

development
field. It is vividly recognized that women empowerment is essential for
sustainable economic growth and reduction in poverty in developing countries
(Klasen,1999). In the World Bank Policy Research Report, it is unambiguously
suggested that women empowerment is being progressively recognized as an
important policy goal for improving not just the well-being of women themselves
but also for its positive impact on the family (King and Mason, 2001).

Klasen,
S. (1999). Does Gender Inequality Reduce Growth and Development? Evidence from
Cross-Country Regressions, Policy Research Report on Gender and

Development,
Working Paper Series, No 7, Washington, DC: The World Bank

Status in Pakistan

A
close examination into the practical aspects concerning the implementation of
these rights in the present day Pakistani society suggests that the rights are
grossly violated on many accounts. There are people who knowingly or
unknowingly deviate in this regard from the commandments and guidance of Islam
(Khan, 2004: 42).

Pakistan
being an Islamic Republic; every rule and regulation in the country is based on
Islamic law. But, at the same time, there are some customs and traditions
against Islamic laws which are commonly practiced (UN, 2011: 20). Cultural
patterns in Pakistan do not let women enjoy their legal and religious rights
protected by the law and provided by Islam. Pakistan is an Islamic state but in
women’s rights, it derives its interpretation from customs and cultural norms
(Ibrahim, 2005: 103). The existence of parallel justice system like Jirga11 and
panchayat12 are generally apathetic to women and their grievances and
therefore, the existence of both legal and religious safeguards and measures do
not percolate into the social structure. The fear factor also prevents women
from asserting their rights. These bodies unlawfully impose punishments on
those who assert their individual rights against the prescribed norms of the
tribe or the community (Bari and Khattak, 2001: 230). Thus, malevolence of
parochial culture overshadows the Religion of peace and equality-Islam. 

Literacy rate of men and women in Pakistan

 Education

Youth (15-24 years) literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*, male 79.1

Youth (15-24 years) literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*, female 61.5

Primary school participation, Gross enrolment ratio (%)
2008-2012*, male 101.3

Primary school participation, Gross enrolment ratio (%)
2008-2012*, female 83.3

Primary school participation, Net enrolment ratio (%)
2008-2012*, male 79

Primary school participation, Net enrolment ratio (%)
2008-2012*, female 65

Primary school participation, Net attendance ratio (%)
2008-2012*, male 70

Primary school participation, Net attendance ratio (%)
2008-2012*, female 62.3

Secondary school participation, Net enrolment ratio (%)
2008-2012*, male 39.7

Secondary school participation, Net enrolment ratio (%)
2008-2012*, female 29.2

Secondary school participation, Net attendance ratio (%)
2008-2012*, male 34.6

Secondary school participation, Net attendance ratio (%)
2008-2012*, female 28.9

 

Legal Measures
Taken in Pakistan

It
is very interesting to note that, since independence Pakistan has formulated
Laws to protect women and to give them security. At time of foundation, there
was little legal distinction between the rights that women and men enjoyed
(Weiss 2012: 3). The Constitution of Pakistan thus says:

There
shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex along;14

Steps
shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national
life;15

the
state shall protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child16.

At
the provincial level also, the 18th amendment to the Constitution (2010)
granted greater autonomy to the provinces in matters related to the advancement
of women along with other issues (UN, 2013). But, like other social sectors of
Pakistan, the perennial problem of policy implementation has also plagued this
sector. At official level, the following Laws have been adopted in Pakistan to
safeguard women:

• Muslim family Laws Ordinance (MFLO)
of 1961.17

• The West Pakistan Family Courts Act
of 1964.18

• Dowry and Bridal Gifts Restriction
Act, 1976.

• Criminal Law (Amendment) Act,
2004.19

• Protection of Women Act (2006)20,
revised the Hudood Ordinance.

• Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2010
(on sexual harassment).

• Protection against Harassment of
Women at the Workplace, 2010.

Status of Women
in Pakistan 185

 

• Prevention of Anti-Women Practices
(Criminal Law Amendment) Act, 2011.21

• Criminal Law Act (Second Amendment,
2011), referred as Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act.

• Criminal Law Act (Third Amendment,
2011), referred to as Prevention of Anti-Women Practices.

• The Women in Distress and Detention
Fund (Amendment) Act, 2011

• Domestic Violence (Prevention and
Protection), Act 2012.

• National Commission on the Status of
Women Act, 2012.

• Enforcement of Women Ownership
Rights Act 2012.

• The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elimination
of Custom of Ghag Act 2013.22

In
addition, Pakistan has been party to various international and regional
conventions for protecting women and giving them equal status. Pakistan is a
signatory to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD),
the Beijing Plan of Action and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination
of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)23. Pakistan acceded to
CEDAW in 1996, making a declaration on the Convention and entering a
reservation on Article 29, Declaration:

“The
accession by Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the (said
Convention) is subject to the provisions of the Constitution of the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan.” Reservation: “The Government of the Islamic Republic of
Pakistan declares that it does not consider itself bound by paragraph 1 of
article 29 of the Convention.”

Pakistan
has also committed itself to “pursue by all appropriate means and without delay
a policy of eliminating discrimination against women”. It is therefore obliged
to remove “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex .

186
J.R.S.P., Vol. 51, No. 1, January – June, 2014

 

 

which
has the purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or
exercise by women… on the basis of equality between men and women, of human
rights and fundamental freedoms” (UN, 2011: 19).

Unfortunately,
the radicalization of the State has divested the country of an environment
which is required for the actual implementation of these various legislations
and, in turn, to protect the female population. Most of these laws remain on
paper, as the country’s enforcement apparatus remains, on the one hand,
stretched to its limited dealing with a deluge of terrorism and enveloping
crime, and, on the other, indifferent to the plight of women within a society
that remains parochial and deeply committed to a religious and political
ideology that denies equality to women and seeks to exclude them from the
public sphere (Bhattacharya, 2013).

 

LITERATURE
REVIEW

Cynthia Romany sites the liberal foundations of human rights
law and the false division between the public and private spheres as a major
barrier in the realization of women’s rights. Negative freedoms, such as the
right to be left alone in one’s home without the interference of the state,
underlie the liberal state. This right sanctifies the private sphere and works
to subordinate women within the walls of the home(Romany 93), Romany argues
that there is a gender stratification built into the liberal state. Because
women’s rights in the private sphere are ignored in the foundations of
liberalism, Romany argues that: Women are the paradigmatic alien subjects of
international law. To be alien is to be another, to be an outsider. Women are
aliens within their states, aliens within an international exclusive club that
constitutes international society. (Romany 85) Because international human
rights law is premised on male models, women are in effect invisible from the
formulation of rights. Romany argues for the dissolution of the public/private
split within international human rights law. She cites Eleanor Roosevelt, one
of the first advocates for an international human rights framework who said:
Where after all, do human rights begin? In small places, close to home-so close
and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the
world of the individual person: the neighborhood he lives in; the school or
college he attends; the factory, fans or office where he works. Such are the
places where every man, woman or child seeks justice, equal opportunity, equal
dignity, without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they
have little meaning anywhere. (Romany 90)

Most feminist thought around international human rights law
has not breached the division of the two spheres, and this has left this
division largely intact in human rights treaties. This is because feminist
critiques of law initially began as a branch of “liberal” feminism.
This brand of feminism “identifies sexual equality with equal treatment,
rejecting any notion that the law should tolerate or recognize intrinsic
differences between women and men”(Charlesworth 63). Feminist critics have
worked for women being treated “like men” in the public sphere while
not identifying this division itself as a fundamental barrier towards the
realization of women’s rights. This has been the approach of current
international human rights law, and this rationale underlies the majority of
the United Nations treaties on human rights including the International
Covenant on Civil Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights. These documents imply that women must confront to
male models in order to fall under their protection (Charlesworth 64). However,
this approach does not address systemic issues of the gender division of power.
It reinforces the basic organization of society with male models imposed on
women. Charleworth argues that “The promise of equality as ‘sameness’ as 7
men only gives women access to a world already constituted”(Charlesworth
64). This vision gives women no voice in reconceptualizing rights to reflect
their own realities.

According to Charlesworth, “The fundamental problem
women face worldwide is not discriminatory treatment compared with men,
although this is a manifestation of a larger problem” ( Charlesworth 60).
The discrimination women face is based on powerlessness in both the public and
the private realms, and international human rights law instruments do nothing
to remedy this state of powerlessness (Charlesworth 60).

 

Women’s Rights and Post-Colonialism Most development
practitioners and scholars argue that human dignity is the undeniable right of
every person, and that violence against women denies women of that right. There
is dispute, however, over the best way to realize human dignity. While some
scholars and development institutions see human rights as an effective vehicle
toward human dignity, there is much debate about the effectiveness and
appropriateness of human rights as an international development tool. Some see
UN Conventions as a Western assumption that the Global South needs to be
governed by outside forces rather than depending on their own legal
institutions (Visweswaran, 2004). Women’s rights Conventions such as CEDAW are
seen as an extension of the colonial agenda that works to enlighten the South
where women are “victims of their culture” (Rajasingham, 1995; Coomaraswamy,
1995; Coomaraswamy, 2002). Women’s rights rhetoric, Visweswaran (2004) argues,
is used to reinforce West-South power dynamics: The language of universal human
rights works to recreate patterns of deviance which fall disproportionately
upon some nations or geographical areas and not others. Particular states then
assume certain identities, not as democracies or dictatorships, but as
bride-burners, honor-killers, or genital mutilators (p. 502). 2 In
Visweswaran’s view, the West is therefore not only creating the standards of
human dignity, but is also painting a picture of a world where the South plays
the deviant to the West’s normative regulation. The rich feminist activism that
does exist in South Asia is thereby dismissed by rights language which measures
in universal standards and cannot see local level change as possible from the
deviant South. Escobar (1995) illustrates this point in his writing when he
distinguishes between “First World feminists” and “Third World women”
discounting the existence of feminists in the developing world. Rajasingham and
Visweswaran highlight some of the more acerbic sentiments toward the West in
their own implicit skepticism of the West’s perspective of South Asia.
Rajasingham (1995) continues the argument by stating that the West victimizes
South Asian women while claiming that gender equality is a Western conception
and “a mark of civilizational superiority” (p. 243). Escobar questions this same
point, when he wonders if the participation of women in developing countries
within the current patriarchy, “entails a certain idea of ‘liberation’ for
women in the South” (p. 188). Here, he points to the Western “liberation,” or
rights Conventions, falsely unifying women while helping to liberate women in
the South. Coomaraswamy (1995) expresses concern over this inevitable
association of women’s rights Conventions coming out of the West with an
“imposition of the western colonial project” (p. 215). She feels that this
overarching skepticism of the Western agenda can give language and credence to
fundamentalist movements in Asia that would further suppress women’s rights.
Due to her perception of the intrinsic value in a “strong human rights
tradition,” Coomaraswamy struggles to offer a solution to this dilemma (p.
216). Her solution is an appeal to move beyond merely the question of violence
against women and broaden the cause as a fight for universal human rights and
dignity. This opens a further debate between the universalism of human rights,
and the right to national sovereignty and freedom from pressures from
international rights norms and their underlying Western assumptions.
Rajasingham (1995) posits that this universalism can “flatten” diverse female
identities and cultural distinctions that women choose to preserve.

 

OBJECTIVE

The
main objective of this research is to see the ratio of postgraduate women
having knowledge and awareness about their legal rights which are given to them
by the state and Islam. In Pakistan most of the women having higher education
are considered as women fully aware to women rights therefore to check the
validity of the truth of this consideration one must have to see the facts and
analyze these facts scientifically so that the actual concept get clearer.
Postgraduate  women are having more
knowledge and can understand about women rights better than illiterate women
but to know the truth about this concept a research based on perspective of
literate women about women rights will be conducted through which you will get
the reality of women’s awareness about their rights.

Another
important purpose of this research is to increase women awareness about women
rights so they can use their right against violation. Negligence from women
rights often cause exploitation of women in every field of life which also
cause inequality in society. First step in preventing women rights is to make
sure whether women aware to their legal rights or not. This will also decrease
gender discrimination. To generalize the information about women rights first
thing is to recognize the problem behind unawareness of women about their legal
rights because there is a relation between cause and effect of every problem.
Women empowerment will get better when the awareness of rights will be known by
every woman.

In
Pakistan violation of women rights and human rights is a big challenge for the
society. Although NGOs and women welfare organizations exist and working but
the major issue is lack of women empowerment and this can only possible when
the women rights are given to women and for this purpose enlighten women about
women rights is key for solving the problem of violation of rights.

 

METHODOLOGY

Population

When
we are going to explore about the postgraduate women perspective about women
rights the first thing which has to be considered is to collect the data from
the population of postgraduate women who are the real representative of this
perspective. So for this we have chosen the population of women having
postgraduate level of education from the Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi.
Now here age of women is not specified because we have to collect sample which
could represent the perspective of every age grouped postgraduate women. The
universe will be from Pakistan, Punjab province and city of Rawalpindi.

Sample
size

Sample of 20 postgraduate women is
taken for data collection.

Sampling
technique

Next step is the sampling technique in
which we have used random sampling technique.

 

 

Data
collection tool

Tool of data collection is
questionnaire in which eight close ended questions and two open ended questions
are asked by population to achieve exact clear answers about their perspective.
Most of the research design is quantitative but there is also a very little qualitative
nature in it.

 

ANALYSIS OF DATA

The gathered data is analyzed by percentage
formula to see to percentage of women having knowledge about women rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q1.
DO YOU THINK WOMEN RIGHTS EXIST IN OUR LAW OF PAKISTAN?

 

YES

NO

DON’T KNOW

TOTAL

18

2

0

UNMARRIED

16

2

0

MARRIED

2

0

0

Percentage:

Yes:
90%

No:
10%

Don’t
know: 0%

 

Q2.
DO YOU THINK PAKISTAN IS HAVING A LAW THAT IS PROTECTING WOMEN RIGHTS IN AN
EFFECTIVE WAY?

 

YES

NO

DON’T KNOW

TOTAL

10

9

1

UNMARRIED

10

7

1

MARRIED

0

2

0

Percentage:

Yes:
50%

No:
45%

Don’t
know: 5%

 

Q3.
DO YOU NAME OF ANY ACT ABOUT WOMEN RIGHTS?

 

YES

NO

TOTAL

4

16

UNMARRIED

4

14

MARRIED

0

2

Percentage: 

Yes:
20%

No:
80%

 

Q4.
IF YES THEN WRITE THE NAME OF ACT:

 

WORKPLACE HARRASMENT ACT

WOMEN SEXUAL HARRASMENT ACT

ANTI-RAPE BILL

TOTAL

1

2

1

UNMARRIED

1

2

1

MARRIED

0

0

0

Just
20% women answered this question and all who answered wrote right acts.

 

Q5.
IS VERBAL OR MAKING ANY SOUND OR GESTURE INTENDING TO INSULT THE MODESTY OF
WOMEN COUNTS IN HARRASMENT ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF PAKISTAN?

 

YES

NO

DON’T KNOW

TOTAL

10

5

5

UNMARRIED

10

3

5

MARRIED

0

2

0

(According
to the section 509, Pakistan Penal Code, 1860. Protection of Women against
Violation Bill, 2015)

Percentage:

Yes:
50%

No:
25%

Don’t
know: 25%

 

 

Q6.
WHAT IS THE STRICTEST OR HIGHEST PUNISHMENT FOR WOMEN RIGHTS VIOLATION IN LAW
OF PAKISTAN?

 

DEATH PENALTY

FINE

7 YEARS IN PRISON

TOTAL

2

2

1

UNMARRIED

1

2

1

MARRIED

0

0

0

Just
25% answered this question and just 10% were exactly right according to the
present law of Pakistan.

(Section
376, Pakistan Penal Code, 1860. Anti-Rape Bill, 2016)

 

Q7.
HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED WOMEN RIGHT VIOLATION WITH YOURSELF OR WITH ANYONE
ELSE?

 

YES

NO

TOTAL

10

10

UNMARRIED

10

8

MARRIED

0

2

Percentage:

Yes:
50%

No:
50%

 

Q8.
IF YES THEN DID YOU TAKE ANY LEGAL STEP AGAINST THAT VIOLATION?

 

YES

NO

TOTAL

1

19

UNMARRIED

1

17

MARRIED

0

2

Percentage:

Yes:
5%

No:
95%

 

Q9.
DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANY LEGAL INHERITANCE WOMEN HAVE IN PROPERTY?

 

YES

NO

TOTAL

16

4

UNMARRIED

15

3

MARRIED

1

1

Percentage:

Yes:
80%

No:
20%

 

Q10.
DO YOU THINK EDUCATION SERVES IN THE AWARENESS OF WOMEN RIGHTS?

 

YES

NO

DON’T KNOW

TOTAL

20

0

0

UNMARRIED

18

0

0

MARRIED

2

0

0

Percentage:

Yes:
100%

No:
0%

Don’t
know: 0%

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

The
overall research concludes that postgraduate women in Rawalpindi for some
extent know about their women rights given by the law of Pakistan but it is
viewed that majority of postgraduate women who are considered very well aware
of their rights are actually really not fully aware if we talk formally. They
know that there are women rights given to them but if we talk about the formal
nature of women rights, they are unable to explain it.

 

 

 

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