RBA hosts awareness seminar on forced marriage

Shazia Bilal

THE Rawalpindi Bar Association organized a seminar on ‘forced marriage: current legal concerns and transnational components linked to migration in Scandinavia,’ at the district bar Rawalpindi in connection with the celebrations on International Women’s Day.
The purpose was to create awareness and to sensitize on the issue of forced marriage and its effects cross-border with special emphasis on Scandinavian countries. It aimed at devising and working closely with those at risk and channelizing a system to work two ways instead of devising policy framework which make the minorities feel stigmatize. Therefore, the discussion was intertwined with migration and integration on one hand and domestic violence, religion and cultural elements of the minority population on the other hand.
The seminar was well attended by the female lawyers of the district courts, dignitaries including representative form Danish Embassy, the diplomats, foreigner, civil society, and the office bearers of the District bar association.
The seminar opened with the welcome note of the organizer and speaker Ms. Shazia Bilal Advocate Supreme Court, who spoke candidly about the reason of relevance of Pakistani community to Scandinavia. She added that Nordic countries have dense population and pressure of immigrants from Pakistan, esp District Gujrat. These people not so educated compared to rest of Pakistan still indulge in transnational marriages which are economically motivated and valuable entry passes to an industrialized countries. She felt the dejection and rejection of the female community who are the victim of domestic violence, after having spent her considerable time in Norway, after attaining her higher legal education there.
The key note speaker Dr Farzana Bari, a feminist and the former head of the department Gender studies Quaid e-Azam University spoke eloquently and highlighted the history and the current practice still ongoing regarding practice of Forced marriage. Her though provoking presentations and on the subject was highly encouraged by the audience. She gave a suggestion for opening up a dialogue for an ongoing process of learning and dissemination of information for the female lawyers at the bar which initiative was welcomed by the President District Bar Association.
Mrs Nigar Nazar, the first female cartoonist was also one of the speakers. Her animated videos about the subject were displayed by her daughter Nazish Abbas as she was ill. She affirmed the idea to continue highlighting the issue of forced marriage in the series of seminar in future thus giving a visual aspect to it. In the past, Mrs Nazar has raised aware and public campaigns about several issues relating to women with her cartoons and comics (Gogi).
Mrs. Sarkar Abbas Advocate spoke about the legal provisions and the amendments made to Pakistani legislations relating Forced marriage. The Program concluded with a vote of thanks from the President Rawalpindi District Bar Association, Sajjad Akbar Abbasi who expressed his sentiments and feelings of appreciation of participants to continue with such like seminars in the future as well.
—Writer is Advocate at Supreme Court of Pakistan

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