ASIA/PAKISTAN - Appeal to the Government: protect female workers from violence and exploitation

Friday, 2 May 2014

Faisalabad (Agenzia Fides) - The government must protect women workers from exploitation, violence and slavery, especially paying attention to how many are engaged in agricultural work, domestic work and or in other menial jobs: this is the appeal launched on the occasion of Labour Day, by a forum of civil society organizations in Pakistan, led by the "Association of women for Awareness and Motivation" (AWAM) and shared by groups of Christian women associations and other religious minorities.
In a meeting held yesterday, May 1st, in Faisalabad, it was stressed that politics in Pakistan has so far given ineffective responses for the protection of workers' rights and, in particular, of working women. In a note sent to Fides, Nazia Sardar, director of "Awam", said: "More than 10 million women are engaged in cottage industry in areas such as clothing and weaving, making jewelry, shoes, embroidery and carpets. Despite their contribution to the national economy, they are denied any form of legal protection, including a guaranteed minimum wage.
Shazia George, an activist for women's rights, remarked: "Women are exploited by employers and do not even have the status of 'worker'. This is why they have low wages, work long hours and, in addition, are often subjected to harassment and violence".
Some parliamentarians present noted that Pakistan has made strides in ensuring a significant representation of women in all spheres of life, such as politics and business, and is making efforts to regularize the legal protection of their rights. Women in Pakistan face obstacles due to a patriarchal society and a mindset that puts them in a position of inferiority. It is therefore essential that they have a unified voice for the defense of their rights. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 02/05/2014)