NOT JUST ‘BOMBS AND BULLETS’
Pakistani Ambassador Sherry Rehman has no illusions about the violence and discriminations women face in her country, especially in rural villages where men treat wives and daughters like property.
“I know the ground realities,” Ms. Rehman told visitors this week to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, where they marked International Women’s Day.
The ambassador, a former twoterm member of the Pakistani legislature, said her country has passed many laws to combat wife-beating, honor-killing and other violence against women.
“Our own human rights commission is vigilant in showing us the ... victims of gender brutality, which is the antithesis of what our politics and our religion stand for,” she said.
“Acid attacks, honor killings, forced marriages, rape and domestic violence — this is not acceptable to any government in Pakistan.”
Ms. Rehman said the government of President Asif Ali Zardari is dedicated to women’s rights.
Mr. Zardari is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister who was assassinated in 2007. Mr. Zardari this week signed a bill to allow the National Commission on the Status of Women to operate as an independent voice to advocate for women’s rights.
“The Pakistan story you hear in Washington is often only about the country that fights the front lines of terror and extremism,” Ms. Rehman said.
“I want to take the opportunity to say that we are not just about bombs and bullets. Pakistan is also about women who lead the way forward.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in celebration of International Women’s Day, we must demand the fundamental right to be judged by who we are and what we have accomplished, not defined by our fathers and husbands, but defined by ourselves.”