The General Assembly of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva
Agenda Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
Challenges to Women Rights in the UN-declared Disputed Region of Gilgit Baltistan
September 18, 2015
Honorable Mr. President,
WERC is deeply concerned at the worsening incidences of violence against women as ensuring equal rights, and recognizing that violence against women is a manifestation of unequal gender relations and obstacle to development and peace, is essential to building a prosperous society. We believe that one cannot think of achieving poverty reduction â€“ the first millennium development goal â€“ if women face torture and discrimination on regular basis. It is found that women lacking freedom are less aware of their rights. For instance, almost 90% of the women surveyed in Pakistan in 2002 did not know they deserved or had rights.
Here, the case of the women of Gilgit Baltistan region can be used as example. PakistanÂ citing Gilgit Baltistanâ€™s status as disputed with India, denies the region a constitutional framework and legislative autonomy, which results in the lack of rule of law, accountability and judicial recourse governing women rights. The recent incident of men accused of raping 30 women and making videos in Gilgit; or the rape and murder casesÂ ofÂ Shagufta Anam and Shabana Akhtar; or the case of women of Diamer being denied political rights, all indicate that the laws enshrined in the constitution should protect local women.
On occasions, authorities denyÂ adequate support to victims like in Gilgit where recently 2 police personnel werereprimanded for assisting a rape victim. Several otherÂ examples of sexual violence by Pakistani security forces in villages along the Line of Control deserve Councilâ€™s immediate attention.Â Here, one can cite Pakistanâ€™s Human Rights Commission thatÂ 90% of women in Gilgit-Baltistan face violence and that female suicide ratio in Ghizer is highest among the districts of Pakistan.
Given Gilgit Baltistanâ€™s disputed nature, the Council has a responsibility to address the situation.Â In the light, the Council should demand that Pakistan:
1-Â BringÂ educational reforms to ensure learning in the mother tongue to enhance female literacy and empowerment.
2-Â Control radicalization and religious intolerance stemming from actors and institutions in Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.Â By way of example, the case of Pakistanâ€™s Islamic Ideological Council condoning child marriage, marital rape, denying women a say in relationships or declaring existence of women as un-Islamic sends a wrong message.
I request the Council to constitute a rights monitoring mission to study the situation in Gilgit Baltistan and also request an immediate visit of the Special Rapporteur.
I thank you Ms. President