By Faiza Khan
The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) under it’s initiative of women empowerment through equality and Justice for every girl and woman, seeks to empower the women of Pakistan under the rule of law with the help of some “liberalists”. The IAWJ President, Dr. Susana Medina, after seeing the effort and commitment, of liberal Justice Ayesha A. Malik from Lahore, towards their initiative, during the “Second Conference of Women Judges of Punjab” which was held in October 2019, decided to implement the initiative by convening the “Third Women Judges’ Conference” at Nishat Emporium, Lahore between 28 November to 1st December, 2019 under the banner of Punjab Judicial Academy (PJA). The guests of the conference included Catherine Rodriguez the U.S Council General, members of Justice System Support Programme (JSSP), British High Commission and the Asia Foundation.
Women from urban and more developed areas Pakistan are quite open to the idea of being liberalized and empowered, as compared to women from rural and less developed regions of the country. This difference was also observed during the recently held “Aurat March” under the banner of Aurat Foundation. Interestingly, both of these women empowering projects have the same funding source. The three days conference, which was attended by almost 300 women judges from almost all the districts of Punjab, covered the topics of gender discrimination that portrayed women as weak and in need of support for empowerment.
One of the speakers from Aurat Foundation highlighted the derogatory and emotionally distressing terminologies used by the judges in the courts for women rape victims. While developing the gender perspective in Pakistani society as per conference’ agenda, she tried to make the audience believe that that there are a large number of victims who never get justice
The idea of such conferences should be to create constructive awareness to tackle the actual issue. It should not be used as an opportunity to project a negative image of the whole country by creating an impression is formed that there is no rule of law in rape cases. A tightly knit family system is the foundation of Pakistani culture. Initiative to strengthen the rule of law against injustices has always been encouraged and supported in Pakistan by all members of the society, irrespective of the gender, but encouraging Pakistani women to step up as a force to rise against their own men and portraying them as animals, instead of walking beside them is a counterproductive strategy which will only damage our culture weaken our traditional family systems. Awareness needs to be created in all gender groups to reduce crime rates; local organizations which seek “rescue support” from Western women empowering organizations, for their personal gains and global recognition at the cost of country’s international image, should always be discouraged.
Liberal women from privileged segments of society, who claim to support vulnerable women from rural and remote areas of the country, are completely disconnected from them but voice their opinions globally against men, based on incomplete data and information, only weaken the image of Pakistani women. However, the success of women empowerment initiative in Lahore was visible when Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa during the concluding session, on the recommendation of Prof. Munazza Hassan to use “gender neutral language”, called her “Ms. Ayesha” instead of Mrs. Justice Ayesha, while appreciating her dedication and efforts towards gender balanced judiciary and disclosed her name as a nominee for the next Supreme Court Judge.
Women Judges rendering efforts to legislate the “gender discrimination reforms” in Pakistan for the women of Pakistan is indeed remarkable and worth the praise, but if the perspective of “Gender” is kept aside and perspective of “vulnerable to justice” is kept prior, which includes age, child abuse, minority, gender and others, this can help to safeguard the rights of every vulnerable individual of Pakistan. The initiative of developing 116 Gender Based Violence (GBV) courts in all the districts of Pakistan, if changed to courts for “vulnerable to justice” will definitely help the greater cause, making courts more accessible for and sensitive towards those who are vulnerable to justice. This will help not only the women of Pakistan for suppressing “His” voice against “Her” voice, but to the entire community seeking justice.