Friday, Aug 15, 2003
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By Haroon Habib
The meet organised a symbolic `Court' where South Asian women who have endured beatings, rape and other abuse with little hope of getting justice shared their problems.
The `Court' issued a 12-point statement at the end of the meet, including a need to improve the quality of grassroots education for the long-term eradication of patriarchal values, which it said was one of the causes of human trafficking and other forms of violence against women. It was the 18th sitting of the `women's court.'
One of the Court's jury, the former South African First Lady, Winnie Madiizela-Mandela said: "There should be proper formulation, enactment and implementation of laws against the perpetrators." However, she said, the jury opposed the death penalty unequivocally.
According to papers released at the conference, India and Pakistan were "sending, destination and transit areas" for human traffickers. Bangladesh was also a sending and transit country, including for ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who were being trafficked to India and beyond, it said.
It said 3,391 children had gone missing in Bangladesh over the past 10 years and only 69 of them just a little more than two per cent had been found. "We want a regional as well as an international court with trans-border jurisdiction to allow perpetrators to be punished," leading Bangladesh lawyer and rights activist, Salma Sobhan, told a press conference after the meeting.
The meet was jointly organised by a Bangladesh NGO, UBINIG, and another Bangladeshi non-governmental groups, Narigrantha Probortona, with sponsors including the United Nations Development Programme, Oxfam and the India-based Asian Women's Human Rights Council.
Earlier, addressing the forum, Ms. Mandela blamed widespread poverty and official neglect for the sufferings of women, including trafficking and HIV/AIDS. "Poverty is the root cause for increasing violence against women and their ordeal in trafficking and attacks by HIV/AIDS."
"In some countries, Governments ignore the plights of helpless women," Ms. Mandela told the delegates attending the conference.
The countries which participated in the meeting included Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
The UNDP said some 225,000 women were being trafficked on an average a year from the eight participating countries where some seven million people were estimated to be HIV/AIDS positive.
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