NOT JUST ‘BOMBS AND BUL­LETS’

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

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.”

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