03/07/2005, 00.00
PAKISTAN – INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
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Education as a weapon to boost women's dignity

Kasur (AsiaNews) – School and education are the 'weapons' in Pakistani women's arsenal to improve their status in a male-dominated society, a society that inflicts violence on a daily basis, one that annihilates their dignity. It is focusing on this goal that the Pakistani Church wants to help women.

A recent report by the Pakistan National Commission for Human Rights indicated that in 2004 there were about a thousand honour crimes, 10,000 rapes and thousands of incidents of domestic violence in which women were attacked, among other things, with acid, or whipped.

Recently, the Pakistani government rejected a legislative proposal that would have banned and punished the endemic scourge in Pakistani society that is honour killing.

Sherry Rehman, a member of Pakistan's National Assembly, harshly criticised the decision, saying that the proposed bill was meant to better protect women. It failed because it was rejected by the alliance of six Islamic parties Mutthaida Majlisi-i-Amal (MMA).

"There was no question of [it being] Islamic or unislamic," she said. "Islam has given equal rights to women and men".

Meantime Catholic NGO Milap brought 170 women to Kasur in order to convince them to learn to read and write so that they may know their rights.

In Pakistan illiteracy among women stands at 70 per cent as opposed to 40 per cent among men.

Speaking to the gathered women, Milap director Margaret Piara said that "education will enable you to be more active in your family and work life".

She urged the women to send their children to school, especially their daughters, so that they can have a better future, one with greater dignity.

Fr Bernard Inayat, Kasur's priest, stressed that his parish is already providing women greater educational opportunities. This is done by including women in the liturgy but also involving them in Bible study classes.  (LF)

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