Women protesting in Lahore
Rights workers are urging the government to ensure women get the right to participate in upcoming general elections following reports local jirga (assembly) laws are banning them from voting.
“Elections should be declared null and void if a ban is imposed on women and those responsible should be punished,” the Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) said in a statement yesterday.
“Concrete policies should be in place to deal with other threats to democracy including vote buying, use of terror, meddling by state institutions, and bias against gender and religion,” the statement said.
General elections are due to take place by the middle of 2013.
These were some of the more pressing demands submitted by the organization yesterday to the provincial election commissioner.
Their concerns surfaced after people complained that women were not allowed to vote in six council by-elections held this February.
Samson Salamat, director CHRE in Lahore, said a free, transparent and credible electoral process is not possible without women’s participation.
“Women were also barred from voting in three provinces in 2008 general elections. Banning them means denying representation to more than half the country’s population. This illegal practice goes unpunished,” he said.
“The government must also ensure easier voter registration for them and investigate complaints over
discrepancies found at polling stations. The latter procedure should be publicized to maximize the benefits,” he added.
The forum, Collective Action for Ensuring Women’s and Girl’s Participation in Electoral Processes in Pakistan, also recommended improving facilities for women voters at polling station in a resolution passed yesterday in Islamabad.
Commission highlights women issues