Save the World for Our Children

Being the most vulnerable segment of society, anywhere in the world, children are always the first ones to be harmed and the last ones to be heard.

This sad fact was acknowledged in the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session on Children (UNGASS), in May 2002. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, acknowledged that the world has not been able to fulfil the commitments made in the World Summit for Children in 1990.

About 300 children from all over the world were given an opportunity to participate I the children’s forum, held on this landmark event. Nearly 70 heads of states also attended the session.

Though this event provided a chance to the children from all over the world to be in limelight for the few days, like the World Summit on Children (WSC) held in 1990, the action plan sets forth ambitious goals without determining means to get there. Most of the recommendations made in the WSC have not been implemented even after 12 years, mainly because of cruel economic environment. After the WSC, member countries prepared End of Decade reports and a Draft Outcome document was compiled last year, which was pivotal in the deliberations that took place during the Special Session.

The agreed Plan of Action envisaged in the outcome document describes,

“A world fit for children is one in which all children get the best possible start in life; have access to quality basic education, including primary education that is compulsory and available free to all; and that all children, including adolescents have ample opportunity to develop their individual capacities in a safe and supportive environment. We will promote the physical, psychological, social and spiritual, emotional, cognitive and cultural development of children as a matter of national and global priorities”.


This is for sure the situation which all of us want for our children. But the ground realities are different. In particularly developing countries, international pressures combined with economic circumstances and social conditions are undermining the crucial role of governments, society and parents to ensure those children grown up in a safe, stable and nurturing environment.

Children need food, shelter, education, health and physical and emotional security not only for their survival, but also for their development. In contrast, for a majority of children, free health and education services along with food and shelter still are a luxury. The 1990s was a decade of great promises but modest achievements for the children of the world. But critical challenges remained unmet, mainly because the resources that were promised at international and national levels did not materialize. According to UNICEF, today there are 600 million children who live in poverty, which is the root cause of the insecurity and is threatening the development of children around the world. At the same time, ten million children die each year, deaths, most of which can be prevented.

Less than five mortality rate has increased in 14 countries and remained unchanged in 11 countries, mainly inSouth Asiaand Sub-Saharan Africa. Diarrhoea, being one of the most widespread causes of children’s death while the fatal polio, is still endemic in 20 countries of the world. At the same time, 150 million children in this world suffer from malnutrition. InPakistan, one in three children, under five years of age, is malnourished which contributes to childhood deaths and reduces the physical and mental capacities of children. Globally, 100 million children, don’t go to school 60 percent of them girls.

Similarly as a result of armed conflicts and foreign occupations, children are subjected to unnatural deaths, injuries and displacement. In 1990s 2 million children died as a result of armed conflict. Six million were permanently disabled or seriously injured and 20 million were displaced or became refugees. The recommendations, made in Outcome report, to find an end to all this suffering, seeks help of the international economic and security situation, which is unrealistic.

Pakistan’s End of the Decade report has stated economic and resource constraints and regional security environment among the foremost constraints.Pakistan, which is still striving to achieve a threshold of development and economic strength, faces ups and downs in its economy. The debt burden assumed alarming proportions with the external and domestic debt reaching 97.5% of country’s GDP. At the same time, the growth rate dipped as low as 1.7% in 1997.

Repeated devaluation in the rupee adversely affected the amount devoted to development projects. Then there were economic sanctions, which targetedPakistanin the developed world. Under such conditions how a country likePakistancould be expected to mobilize its resource? In the education sector, allocations are a mere 2 % of the GDP even less than minimum of 4% prescribed by UNESCO. How can idea of a free universal primary education of good quality be expected?

Similar conditions can be found in other countries also. And the economic environment is going deteriorate even further in wake of changing trends in the world like globalization and WTO. The NGO ‘Save the Children’ fund followed the EU’s stance on WTO and showed its concern in the report, “The Wrong Model: GAT, trade liberalization and children’s right to health”. The report, with the help of leaked documents of European Commission’s secret WTO negotiations, has proved that corporate interests inEuropeare being given priority over the health needs of children and their families. Even the European Commission has publicly stated that it sees WTO as “first and foremost an instrument for the benefit of business” whereas international trade negotiations should be first and foremost an instrument to promote development, poverty reduction, and a better future for the people of world.

If international bodies and forums aim to achieve realistic and applicable solutions to the problems of children, then they will have to be seen in the perspective of economic realities of the poor countries. None of the parents and children wants to opt for child labor if severe economic realities do not force them to do so. The UN needs to draw commitments from the developed world. International policies related to economy must not force the already crushed economies of the developing countries to face a situation where the vulnerable segments of population become victim of harsh realities, which are beyond their control.

Both the governments and international institutions must make mandatory commitments for the betterment of children. (Jalazai, 2004)

Child Rights and Child Labor Global Negligence

Child is a potential man and has all the qualities of developing flowering and fructifying. Physically he is a man in miniature, mentally he is inquisitive and receptive, morally be knows how to respect his elders and obey the parents; and spiritually he is elevated enough because of his innocence which is untarnished. Man can become the “Caption of his soul and master of destiny” only if he; has been properly trained tamed, guided and allowed to develop.

In the global perspective during the last 15 years, states have focused their attention in crediting of poverty and the promotion of gender equality, peace, sustainable development and securing rights of children. States nascent articulation can be seen more effectively in protecting global child rights and enforcement mechanism for early end of child labour. But sill no region of the world is completely free from children labour and it has taken the shape of a global challenge today.

Though, mostly prevalent in the under-developed regions ofAsia,AfricaandLatin America, child labour also exists in rich industrialized countries. According to the ILO, more than 95 percent of all child workers live in developing countries, hi some regions, as many as 25 percent of children between the gases of 10 and 14 are estimated to be working.

Although authentic figures are difficult to get, available in formation reveals that certain countries likeBangladesh,India, andPakistan.Turkey,Egypt,Kenya,Nigeria,Senegal,Argentina,Brazil,Mexico,ItalyandPortugalhave comparatively higher rates of economic activity amongst children. These children are working generally in seasonal job activities, street trades, and small workshops are in a home setting, as well as in agriculture farms.

Asiaaccounts for more than 50 percent of the world’s child laborers who constitute as much as 17 percent of the overall child force in some countries. In thePhilippines, 45 million children work legally and illegally in factories, farms and household. Burma,Cambodia,IndonesiaandThailandalso are noted for their child labour problems. Observers claim that as many as 2 million children under the age of 14 are working half-to-full it inIndonesia, mostly in family-run businesses in the informal sector and in agriculture. One-fourth of all the world’s child laborers are found inIndiaalone. Other counties in southernAsialikeNepalandBangladeshare also rife with child labour problem.

Pakistan, in this global scenario, is not an exception. As the entire world is voicing concern against this issue with increased momentum, its eradication calls for an integrated and coordinated action. As such, there is a dire necessity to create internationally an environment that should serve as a helpful pressure though cooperative prelateship between industrialized countries and the developing nations by means of financial assistance for the uplift of the poor societies and combating the problems like high population growth,. illiteracy, economic recessions and unemployment, etc, instead of developing a climate to aggravate these problems.

Opinions on the conception of child labor are divided and distorted amongst various countries depending on the stages of their development. The developing countries, includingPakistanand other South Asian countries, view it essentially as a projectionist poly. The developed countries project child labor and the conditions of their work and remuneration as a fundamental question of human rights. They view conditions of work for child labour as harsh, exploitative and hazardous. A number of work places are seen as exposing children to undesirable environments: smoking, drug addiction, crimes and other immoral pursuits.

Conditions of child labor are defined by ILO as working:

(a) Too young:

(b) For long hours, in some cases 12 to 16 hours a day;

(c) Under physical, social and psychological strain and stress;

(d) On the streets in healthy and dangerous condition; and

(e) For very little pay.

Child labour is a product of various factors:

(a) Unemployment, under employment and poverty;

(b) Unsatisfactory availability of educational institutions and poor quality of education;

(c) Indifferent attitude of parents and society;

(d) Absence of any formal social security mechanism; and

(e) Sub-optimal policy formulation and implementation

Child labour is also seen as contributing towards the perpetuation available to adults. By accepting lower wages, child labour forces even adults to accept lower competitive wages. Lower wages accepted by adult force other family members including children, to become active in the labor market and seek any work opportunity of wages and condition of work. (Jalazai, 2004)






Modern states are large country-states with vast territories and great population. It is physically impossible for the people in such states to assemble at one place for political purposes. They can take part in the business of the state only indirectly that is through their representatives whom they elect to make laws and policies and to decide other affaires of the state.


  • The representatives elected by the people who have the right to vote called suffrage. This indirect mode of participation is known as election.
  • When the citizens as a whole exercise their right to vote to elect their representatives, it s called an election

Hence modern democracy is an indirect democracy is an indirect democracy, with representatives elected by the people who have the right to vote called suffrage. This indirect mode of participation is known as election. Which we may define as a form of procedure, laid down by the electoral laws whereby some members of he public are chosen by the people to hold legislative or executive offices of authority in the state, In short, it is the way the ruled choose their rulers, i.e. their government.


Elections are the means of legitimating the assignment of a person to an office of authority in the state. John Austin once said that electoral procedure is like the procedure in a marriage ceremony: “Do you take this man (or women) to be your lawfully wedded husband (or wife)? “I do”. So a voter asks the candidate:” Do you accept my demands as your own?” “I do”, says the candidate. The point at which a candidate is elected is really not the moment of choice or decision by the voter: it was, in fact, much earlier, for a free voter decided much earliest to vote for a candidate of his preference.


The right to vote is called the suffrage or franchise. It is one of the most important political rights or the citizens in a democratic state, inasmuch as it is the very foundation and essence of the representative democracy. By the exercise of this right the citizens not only elect their representatives but also express their opinion on the policy of the government.

When a citizen exercises his rights to vote, he becomes a voter or elector. The actual choice or exercise of the right to vote is called voting. The act of voting is called polling. When the citizens as a whole exercise their right to vote to elect their representatives, it is called an election. All the citizens who at a electorate. The size of the electorate depends upon the law of franchise or representation, which differs from country to country.


When a citizen exercises his rights to rights to vote, he becomes a voter or elector.


The actual choice or exercise of the right to vote is called voting. 


The act of voting is called polling.


All the citizens who at a particular time have the right to vote or franchise are collectively called the electorate. 



According to this theory, franchise or the right to vote is the natural and inherent right of the individual. This theory was based on three doctrines which were prevalent during the 18th century; the doctrines of natural rights, equality of man and popular sovereignty or General Will. Carried to its logical conclusion this theory implies universal suffrage. All citizens have the inalienable and scared right to participate in the formulation of the law. “None cam be deprived of this right upon any pretext or in any government.”


The doctrine of natural rights is not acceptable in modern tines. It is now said that franchise is not a natural right of the individual. If it is so, then we cannot refuse this right to such persons who cannot obviously exercise it, as, for example, the minors or the wicked. This theory has the support of several modern writers, such as Bluntschli, Lecky, John Stuart Mill and Sir Henry Maine. The Fascists and Nazis upheld it on ground of racialism and nationalism, while the communists on grounds of proletarian citizenship.


Every state requires that an individual acquire the right to vote when he attains a certain age. Minors and young people are not given the right to vote because they are too young and immature to understand the purpose of voting and election. It is undoubtedly a necessary condition. But there is no uniformity as to the age of maturity or adulthood when the individual becomes a voter. It is eighteen years in the U.S.S.R, U.S.A, U.K and other countries, which is the lowest in the world; 21 years in Pakistan, and 25 years in Holland. However, it is better to fix 18 years of age as the age of a voter.


An individual must be mentally and morally fit to be a voter. Every state exclude lunatics, idiots and criminals from electorate, because they do mot possess necessary moral and mental qualifications. Those who are convicted of crimes may be temporarily or permanently deprived of this right, because they show lack of civic sense. Sometimes bribery at elections also disqualifies a person permanently.

  • SEX

For a long past women were not granted the right to vote, politics was regarded as man’s job only. The demand for universal suffrage was understood as a demand for male suffrage exclusively, on reason why women were disfranchise was the view that those persons only could be voters who fought for the state: warriors, alone were voters.



Some writers and thinkers have advanced several arguments against female enfranchisement in the past and present, as follows: –

(1)    Feminine nature is unfit for politics

The chief argument against female enfranchisement has been that female nature is such, which renders women unfit for political life and decision. Politics is man’s job, just as maternity is women. The Egyptian Ulama of the Al-Azhar University of Cairo issued a Fatwa in 1952, declaring that women must not be given the right to vote or sit in the legislature.

(2). Politics would unsex women

It is also said that nor only female nature but also womanly functions and role in life require that they should not participate in politics, if they are to preserve their feminine qualities and habits. They earn respect and honor from men only when they are delicate, retiring in habits, and devoted to their domestic duties. If they begin to participate in politics on equal terms with men, they would involve themselves in the mud and mire of political controversies and would be treated as roughly as men treat one another in political controversies and would be treated as roughly as men treat on another in political disputes and quarrels.

(3). It would create discord in family life

The opponents of female franchise paint a dark and dismal picture of family discord and quarrels if women are given the right to vote. It is said that if a woman voter agrees with her husband and vote, as he wants her, then peace and happiness of the family would be destroyed for the wife and husband would quarrel over voting.

(4). Women are incapable of bearing arms

A citizen must fight for the country or state; women cannot be given civic rights, as they can do nothing to defend the state.


Several writers, e.g.; Mill, Hare, and Side wick, etc; have championed women’s right to vote. Their arguments are as follows:-

(1). Democracy remains an imperfect ideal without female enfranchisement

Just as democracy does not differentiate between men on basis of race or blood, so it should not differentiate between men and women on the basis of sex. Politics cannot be a monopoly of men, for law and government affect women, their life and happiness as much as they affect men.

(2). Sex is no disqualification

The right of voting is a political right of the individual based on moral and rational grounds rather than on physical considerations. It belongs to both men and women. Women cannot be denied franchise on the basis of sex, for it is a, which does physical factor not affect polities.

(3)  The arguments of family quarrels and military incapacity of

women refuted.

The arguments that the enfranchisement of women would increase family quarrels are quite baseless. On the contrary, it would sharpen the intellects and increase their understanding of the problems confronting their country.

(4)  Weakness of the female sex necessitates her participation in

politics for the sake of better protection.

Citizens are given the right to vote for they have to protect certain rights. Women, being physically weaker, are more dependent on law and government, state and society, for protection of their rights and interests, which men have failed to protect, as past experience has demonstrated.

(5)  Female enfranchisement will exercise moral influence on

political life.

The admission of women into politics would have a purifying, ennobling and refining influence in it. It will tend to improve the tone of public life and will be conducive to better government. It will introduce decency, righteousness and purity in politics.

(6)  Good citizenship is as necessary for women as men

Women are given many civil rights and perform many civil duties, in present times; women are to compete with men in several walks of life. It is, therefore, inconsistent and irrational that they should be denied political right of franchise, when they enjoy other rights, perform civil duties and have to struggle for existence on equal footing with men.

(7) Women are the custodians of culture civilization and the future of every state depends upon their active and equal participation in the affairs of the government. 

·        PROPERTY

In the nineteenth century, possession of property was considered as an essential qualification for franchise. Various reasons were given why property owners alone could be the voters. Firstly, men of property were men of education who could thereby understand the meaning and purpose of voting and election, and could express their opinions on national issues. Secondly, men of property had a stake in the country and would gibe considered opinion on problems and dangers confronting it. Thirdly, it was feared that if the property less classes were given the right to vote. They would elect such representatives as would abolish private property altogether and thus bring economic ruin to the country. Fourthly, the legislature, which imposes taxes, should consist of those who pay taxes, that is the representatives of the propertied classes. In the present times, however, the attitude towards property qualification has completely changed.

·        EDUCATION

In the nineteenth century, ignorance, illiteracy or lack of education was regarded as good grounds for disqualifying a person as a voter. Various writers justified this restriction on different grounds. Bluntschli said, “To vest the power of choosing to see who are to rule the stare in the hands of the incapable and unworthy classes would mean stare suicide.

J.S. MILL asserted that I regard it as wholly inadvisable that any person should participate in the surface without being able to read and write. He therefore remarked that “universal teaching just precedes universal enfranchisement” Like property qualification opinion about educational qualification has also changed in present times.


In view of its importance and power it is necessary that the electorate should be as extensive as the adult population of the state. When all the adult citizens, irrespective of the difference of sex property, social status color or creed, residence, education, etc, have the right to vote it is called universal adult suffrage. It means there should be no restriction on franchise except such essential ones as adulthood or age limit mental and moral fitness.

Arguments against universal adult suffrage

In the some states franchise is restricted on such grounds as property, educations, sex, race, color, religion, etc, various arguments are advanced to justify this kind of restricted suffrage. Firstly, it is said that the ignorant masses or uneducated people will make a dangerously bad use of their votes, as they are opposed to progress. Sir Henry Maine, a strong critic of universal suffrage, said that the enfranchised masses would oppose all scientific, cultural and intellectual progress and achievements of mankind.

Arguments in favor of universal adult suffrage

Several arguments are also advanced in its favors. Firstly universal franchise is democratic. It is based on the sovereignty of the people are sovereign; they should have a share in t5he government. Secondly, laws are obeyed readily when they are made with the consent and approval of all, as expressed through their representatives. Thirdly, universal adult suffrage is based on the principle of ‘one man one vote.’ This principle ensures political equality, as no citizen is excluded from the right to vote. Lastly, it gives strength and stability to the state, because it places political power in the hands of all adult citizens who are intelligent, sane and able-bodied.  In short, universal adult franchise is the very basis of the modern democratic state.


 Purpose of voting

Political issues can be settled by expressing opinion either peacefully of with violence. Voting has been described as a means of deciding political disputes and questions without violence.

It is better to count heads than to break them. But if voting is to achieve this purpose, it must be free and independent. It means that the voter should be free from all sorts of fear s or pressures at the time of voting.

Two methods of voting have been devised to ensure free and independent voting; public voting and secret voting or vote by ballot.

Secret voting

Freedom from intimidation and pressure at the time of voting is essential if voter is to express his choice freely and independently. It means that voting should be secret. But secret voting is recently put into use. In the past centuries, the voter expresses his choice openly and orally in the public. It is called open vote or public voting. In secret voting, the voter casts his vote secretly by means of a ballot paper and in a polling booth, which is screened off from public gaze. He goes in the polling booth and arks the ballot paper according to his choice candidates. He then folds the paper and puts it into a ballot box. When all voters have voted among two or more the box is opened and votes counted.

Plural voting

Many criticize universal suffrage on the grounds that it does not discriminate between wisdom and folly, intelligence and ignorance, education and literacy, property and poverty. Mill remarked that the principle of “one man, one vote” was wrong as it allowed “ignorance to be entitled to as much political power as knowledge, in order to remedy these defects two methods are proposed and employed in some countries.

In plural voting (also called differential voting) some persons are given more than one vote on such grounds as education or property or some other qualification. It is said that they should have more votes than those who are less qualified and have fewer interests at stake. When a person has plural votes, he casts them as many times as his votes.

Weighted voting

It is a particular form of plural voting. Weighted voting means that the vote of a person is weighted on account of education, property or some other qualification. Thus his votes are weighted as against the single vote of the ordinary voter. The example of the weighted voting was found in theBelgiumconstitution before 1921, according to which every male citizen of 25 years of age, and holding a public office or a lawyer had two votes. No one, however, could nave more than three votes in all. Plural or weighted voting inBelgiumwas, however, abolished in 1921, for this system favored the peasants, the clergy, public officials and professional classes, as against the workers and the uneducated masses.

Compulsory voting

It is matter of common observation that those who have the right to vote do not sometimes exercise it. It is often observed that due to apathy or indifference to political duty 15 to 50 percent of the qualified voters stay at home on the Election Day. It reduces the election to a farce and vitiates the expression of the general will. If franchise is a public trust, a privilege conferred on the citizens in the interest of the state and for the social good, they must be obliged to perform this function by law. In other words, voting should be made compulsory and law punishes any citizen, who fails to cast his vote. This is the case inBelgium, where a small fine is imposed for non-voting. But it has increased voting only to a slight degree. On the whole, compulsory voting has not found favor with most of the countries in the present-day world.



It is physically impossible that millions of voters in a country could assemble at one place and cast their vote’s en mess, or know all candidates or go long distances to vote. Owing to these considerations, the whole territory of the state is divided into many electoral areas or districts, called the constituencies.

Merits of the single member system

  • It enables the voters to remain in touch with the candidates and the representatives.
  • It is more economical and simple.
  • It has the advantages of responsibility and stability.
  • It encourages local talent.

Disadvantages of the single member system

  • It unduly favors government candidates.
  • It encourages localism in politics.
  • It narrows the range of choice of candidates.
  • It necessitates constant readjustment of electoral area.
  • It encourages gerrymandering.
  • It distorts the whole representation system by establishing minority government.
  • It does not provide proper representation to the minorities.


An election is the occasion or the means by which the qualified voters make a choice among two or mote candidates for the seat in the legislature or for some public office. It is of two kinds, direct and indirect.


The method of direct election is very simple.  The voters cast their votes for or against the various candidates. The candidate who secures majority of the votes is declared successful and is returned as the representative from that constituency. This method has found favor in all democratic states, especially for the election of the popular Lower House of the legislatures.

Advantages of direct election

  1. It stimulates political interest among voters.
  2. It broadens the mental horizon of he people.
  3. It secures effective control of the government by the electorate.
  4. It is less exposed to corruption.

Disadvantages of direct election

  1. It places power in the hands of ignorant masses.
  2. Passions and propaganda dominate direct elections.


It is comparatively more complicated. The voters do not elect their representatives. They elect only a number of persons, called electors who constitute what is called an electoral college as n intermediary body. These electors then, in their turn, choose the representatives finally. Thus an indirect election involves double election: first a general election by the whole electorate, and then a limited election by the small body of electors, who finally elect the representatives. This method is not so common. It is usually favored for the election of the Second Chambers or the Upper House, especially of the federal states. It is also employed for the election of the presidents of the republican states. For example, inFrancethe Upper Chamber is indirectly elected, in the U.S.S.R the Soviet of Nationalities and inPakistanthe Senate and the President are indirectly elected.

Merits of indirect election

The method of indirect election was much favored by writers during the early period of the rise of modern democracy. In theory, it has many advantages. It was regarded as an effective remedy of the dangers of universal suffrage and an effective check to the emergence of mob rule. Some of the chief merits are as below:-

  1. It is free from the gusts of popular passion
  2. Men of ability and intelligence elect the representatives
  3. It ensures cool consideration of political issues
  4. Finally, the method of indirect election is good for countries whose people are educationally backward and politically unorganized. It is particularly useful for electing the Second Chambers

Defects of indirect election

Experience with the system of indirect election has revealed that its theoretical advantages are non-existent, while it has many defects and disadvantages in actual practice. They are as follows:-

  1. It kills popular interest in the elections and politics
  2. It is out of harmony with the spirit of modern democracy
  3. It is illogical, for if a man is fit to choose an elector, he is also fit to choose a representative
  4. Indirect elections often become direct election in present times
  5. It breeds intrigue and corruption
  6. Finally, indirect election can be successful when both primary and secondary voters are honest, and public-spirited. But this is rarely so



“a legal system for making democratic choices. The word Voting

system  is also used for electoral system.”

How the electoral system works

Of 129 Scotland’s MSPs, 73 are elected by the same “first past the post” method used for Westminsterelections. These individuals will be elected on a constituency basis, in exactly the same way as an MP. In this “first vote”, voters put their X beside the name of an individual candidate, i.e. Jack McConnell (Labor). The candidate with the most votes is then elected.

The “second vote” is a bit more complicated. The remaining 56 MSPs are elected under a form of proportional representation called the “additional member system”. Voters choose the party they wish to support rather than an

individual candidate,

These second-vote “constituencies” are very large: there are just eight covering the whole of Scotland, similar to the European election constituencies. There are seven seats up for grabs in each of these regions. These are divided up amongst the parties on the basis of the proportion of votes they get. However, under a somewhat complicated formula, parties who have won several seats in the first past the post seats in a region effectively get put to the back of the queue. Parties who won no first past the post seats, or very few, are more likely to win these “top-up” seats.

The votes cast for each party are divided by the number of “first past the post” seats gained plus one. The party that gets the highest rating is given the first seat. The calculation is the same for the second to seventh seats but if a party has gained additional seats through the calculation these are then factored in.

The purpose is to make the final result more reflective of how many votes each party received.

The individual MSPs are chosen from party lists. If the party gets just one top-up seat then the person who is first on the list is elected. If the party gets two, then the first and second people on the list are elected. This is why those returned by the second vote are known as list MSPs.

Single-Member/Majoritarian Systems

Single-member systems

  • First-Past-The-Post (FPTP)
  • Supplementary Vote (SV)
  • Alternative Vote (AV)

   Multi-member systems

  • Single Transferable Vote (STV)
  • Party List Systems
          Mixed systems

  • Additional Member System (AMS)
  • The Alternative Vote Plus (AV+)

I am not supposed to discuss every system in detail save FTPT, because it is in vogue in Pakistan.


How the System Works

The current system for electing MPs to the House of Commons is called First-Past-The-Post. There are 659 separate constituencies across theUKeach electing one single Member of Parliament. In order to vote you simply put an ‘X’ next to the name of the candidate you support. The candidate who gets the most votes wins, regardless of whether he or she has more than 50% supports. Once members have been individually elected, the party with the most seats in Parliament, regardless of whether or not it has a majority across the country, normally becomes the next government. It is used for elections to the House of Commons and local elections in the UK and in USA, Canada and Pakistan and India.

Arguments used in favor

  • It is simple to understand.
  • The voter can express a view on which party should form the next government.
  • It tends to lead to a two-party system. The system tends to produce single party governments, which are strong enough to create legislation and tackle the country’s problems, without relying on the support of any other party.
  • It provides a close link between the MP and their constituency.
  • The system represents the views of the people, as the candidate with the greatest support wins through a fair process.
  • TheUK’s democracy is one of the strongest in the world, it works and since no system is perfect, why should we go through the massive overhaul of changing?


  • Only one MP is elected in each constituency, so all the voters who did not vote for him or her are not represented. Their votes do not help elect anybody and so are wasted, they could have stayed at home and the result would not have been altered.
  • In 1997, inGreat Britain, 14.7 million voters cast ineffective votes – that is 48.2% of those who voted. A high proportion of these voters are the same people every time, e.g. Conservative voters inCountyDurhamor Labor voters in much ofSurrey.
  • There is a lack of choice given to the voters. The candidates are selected by a small number of party members, and voters can only choose between parties. If the candidate selected for your party has views with which you disagree, you are left with no alternative choice within that party.
  • Voters are represented unequally. In 1997, the average number of votes per MP elected was: 32,376 for Labor, but 113,826 for Liberal Democrats
  • Concentrated support for a party produces results. In 1997, Conservative support was spread thinly over most ofScotland. They got 18% of the vote inScotland, but no seats. The Liberal Democrats got 13% of the Scottish vote and a similar share of the seats because they had strong support in a few constituencies and minimal support in most of the others.
  • The system leads to many people casting negative votes i.e. voting against the candidate they dislike most rather than for the candidate they like best.
  • The way the boundaries of constituencies are drawn can affect the results. Governments are often accused of gerrymandering, adjusting the boundaries of constituencies to influence the results.
  • In 1997, Labor won 43.3% of the total vote, but got 65.2% of the seats in Parliament, giving them power to form a government. Although 11 out of 20 British electors voted against the Government, it has complete power.


Alternative Vote (AV)

A preferential, plurality-majority system used in single-member districts in which voters use numbers to mark their preferences on the ballot paper. A candidate who receives over 50% of first-preferences is declared elected. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority of first-preferences, votes are re-allocated until one candidate has an absolute majority of votes cast.

Block Vote (BV)

A plurality-majority system used in multi-member districts in which electors have as many votes as there are candidates to be elected. Voting can be either candidate-centered or party-centered. Counting is identical to a First Past the Post system, with the candidates with the highest vote totals winning the seats.

First Past the Post (FPTP)

The simplest form of plurality-majority electoral system, using single-member districts, a categorical ballot and candidate-centered voting. The winning candidate is the one who gains more votes than any other candidate, but not necessarily a majority of votes.

List Proportional Representation (List PR)

In its most simple form List PR involves each party presenting a list of candidates to the electorate, voters vote for a party, and parties receive seats in proportion to their overall share of the national vote. Winning candidates are taken from the lists.

Majority-Plurality (Two-Round System)

In French Two-Round elections any candidate who has received the votes of over 12.5 per cent of the registered electorate in the first round can stand in the second round. Whoever wins the highest numbers of votes in the second round is then declared elected, regardless of whether they have won an absolute majority or not. We therefore refer to it as majority-plurality variant of the Two-Round System.

Majority-Runoff (Two-Round System)

The most common method for the second round of voting in a Two-Round System is a straight “run-off” contest between the two highest vote-winners from the first round – this we term a majority-runoff system.

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)

Systems in which a proportion of the parliament (usually half) is elected from plurality-majority districts, while the remaining members are chosen from PR lists. Under MMP the list PR seats compensate for any disproportionality produced by the district seat results.

Open List

A form of List Proportional Representation in which electors can express a Parallel System – A semi-proportional system in which proportional representation is used in conjunction with a plurality-majority system but where, unlike MMP, the PR seats do not compensate for any disproportionality arising from elections to the plurality majority seats.

Party Block Vote (PB)

A form of the Block Vote in which electors choose between parties rather than candidates. The successful party will typically win every seat in the district.

Plurality-Majority Systems

The distinguishing feature of plurality-majority systems is that they almost always use single-member districts. In a First Past the Post system, the winner is the candidate with a plurality of votes, but not necessarily an absolute majority of the votes. When this system is used in multi-member districts it becomes the Block Vote. Majority systems, such as the Australian Alternative Vote and the French Two-Round System, try to ensure that the winning candidate receives an absolute majority of votes cast.

Proportional Representation (PR)

Any system which consciously attempts to reduce the disparity between a party’s share of the national vote and its share of the parliamentary seats. For example, if a party wins 40 per cent of the votes, it should win approximately 40 per cent of the seats.

Semi-Proportional Systems (Semi-PR)

Those electoral systems which provide, on average, results which fall some way in between the proportionality of PR systems and the disproportionality of plurality-majority systems.

Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV)

A semi-proportional system which combines multimember districts with a First Past the Post method of vote counting, and in which electors have only one vote.

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

A preferential proportional representation system used in multi-member districts. To gain election, candidates must surpass a specified quota of first-preference votes. Voters’ preferences are re-allocated to other continuing candidates when an unsuccessful candidate is excluded or if an elected candidate has a surplus.

Two-Round System (TRS)

A plurality-majority system in which a second election is held if no candidate achieves an absolute majority of votes in the first election.


  • Ul Haque, Mazhar, Political Science theory and practice, Bookland Publishers,Lahore.
  • Ali, Arshad, Ilme Siasiat, Kitab Ghar,Lahore.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica 2003


  3. systemby

Discriminatory Laws against Women


The women in Pakistan has been severely disadvantaged and discriminated against. They have been denied the enjoyment of a whole range of economic, social and civil rights and often deprivation in one of these areas has entailed discrimination in another. Women have denied social right like education, more easily abused in the family and community and are more likely to be deprived of the right to legal redress.

Women in Pakistan don’t enjoy or benefit from the fundamental right recognized in the constitution of Pakistan nor the provision of Muslim personal law.

The provision of labor and service laws discriminates against women. The inquiry of the commission for women clearly states that this legislation must be repealed as it discriminates against women and is in conflict with their fundamental right.

Review of Related Literature

  1. Examine law relating to women with a view to identify those which are discriminatory.

Qanun_e_ shahadat 1984

  1. Competence and number of witness          Article 17

“Competence of person to testify and number of witness required in any case shall be determined in accordance with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah”.

  1. Impeaching credit of witness                     Article 151(4)

The credit of witness may be impeaching by in the following ways by the adverse party or with the consent of the court, by the party who calls him.

a) By the evidence of persons who testify that they, from their knowledge of the witness, believe him to be unworthy of credit.

b) By proof that the witness has been bribed or has accepted the offer of a bribe.

c) When a man in prosecuted for rape it may be shown that prosecutor was of generally immoral character.

Criminal law

Criminal law amendment Act 1997 better know as case of sexual harassment and unnatural offence. The entire law revolves around a patriarchal structure. It is also against women.

PPC 1860

1.  Sexual harassment (Section 509)

“Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any women utters, any word, any sound or gesture, or exhibit any object intending that, such word or sound shall be hear, or that, such gesture or object shall be seen, by such women shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both.”

2. Unnatural offence (Section 377)

“Whoever voluntary has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, women, or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment

Of either description for term which shall not be less than two year nor more than ten year and shall also be liable to fine.”

The sections given below also discriminates women.

  • Hudood Ordinance, 1979.
  • The Zina ordinance (section 2(a))
  • Short title, extent and commencement

This Ordinance may be called the Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979. It extends to the whole of Pakistan. It shall come into force on the twelfth day of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 1399 Hijri, that is, the tenth day of February, 1979.

In this Ordinance, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject of context:

a) “adult” means a person who has attained, being a male, the age of eighteen years or, being a female, the age of sixteen years, or has attained puberty;

b) “hadd” means punishment ordained by the Holy Quran or Sunnah;

c) “Marriage” means marriage which is not void according to the personal law or the parties, and “married” shall be construed accordingly;

d) Muhsan” means

(i) a Muslim adult man who is not insane and has had sexual intercourse with a Muslim adult woman who, at the time he had sexual intercourse with her, was married to him and was not insane; or

(ii) a Muslim adult woman who is not insane and has had sexual intercourse with a Muslim adult man who, at the time she had sexual intercourse with him, was married to her and was not insane

(e)”tazir” means any punishment other than “hadd”, and all other terms and expressions not defined in this Ordinance shall have the same meaning as the Pakistan Penal Code, or the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.

A man and a woman are said to commit ‘Zina’ if they willfully have sexual intercourse without being validly married to each other.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of Zina.

Proof of zina or zina-bil-jabr liable to hadd. Section 8(b)

Proof of zina-bil-jabr liable to hadd shall be in one of the following forms, namely:-

a) the accused makes before a Court of competent jurisdiction a confession of the commission of the offence; or

b) at least four Muslim adult male witnesses, about whom the Court is satisfied, having regard to the requirements of tazkiyah al-shuhood, that they are truthful persons and abstain from major sins (kabair), give evidence as eye-witnesses of the act of penetration necessary to the offence:

c) Provided that, if the accused is a non-Muslim, the eye-witnesses may be non-Muslims.

Zina or zina-bil-jabr liable to tazir.

I. Subject to the provisions of section 7, whoever commits zina or zina-bil-jabr which is not liable to hadd, or for which proof in either of the forms mentioned in section 8 is not available and the punishment of qazf liable to hadd has not been awarded to the complainant, or for which hadd may not be enforced under this Ordinance, shall be liable to tazir.

II. Whoever commits zina liable to tazir shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which  ten years and with whipping numbering thirty stripes, and shall also be liable to fine.

 III. Whoever commits zina-bil-jabr liable to tazir shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which twenty-five years and shall also be awarded the punishment of whipping numbering thirty stripes.

 IV. When zina-bil-jabr liable to tazir is committed by two or more persons in furtherance of common intention of all each of such persons shall be punished with death.

Labor Law

  1. Workmen’s compensation Act 1923

Distribution of compensation SEC.8 (6)

“Where a compensation deposited with the commissioner is payable to any person, the commissioner shall if the person to whom the compensation is payable is not a women or a person under legal disability, and may in other cases pay the money to the person entitled these to.”

This law does not give all the privileges to women with are given to men.

  1. Factories Act 1934

I. Section 32 is prohibition of employment of women near cotton opener.

II. Section 36 Daily Hours

No adult worker shall be allowed or required to work in a factory for more than nine hours in any day.

Provided that male adult worker in a seasonal factory may work for ten hours any time.

III. Section 27(1) Women prohibited from working or near machinery in motion.

IV. Women must work during specified hours

Section 45(1)(a,b) no women shall be allowed to work in factory except between 6AM and 7 PM.

This section also discriminates women.

  1.  Highlight the effects faced by women due to discriminatory laws.
  2. Suggest measure for the reconciliation of discriminatory law against women

Analysis of Data

Available on demand but not published here.

Statement of Problem

The aim of this study is to identify that discriminatory laws against women their effect on the status of women in Pakistan. The study will also suggest measure for the reconciliation of these discriminatory laws.

 Objective of study

Objective of the study are as under:

  1. To study of Criminal Laws as given below,

1.1.   PPC 1860

1.2.   The Hudood Ordinance 1979

  1. To study of Labor Law
  2. To study of  Qanun_e_shahadat 1984

Significance of the study

The study in hand will be helpful for better understanding of discriminatory laws against women in Pakistan and their effect on women. It will also be helpful to start campaigns for repeal of discriminatory laws against women in Pakistan.


A semi structured interview schedule consisting of fourteen questions on different aspects of H O was developed for present study. Interview was conducted personally depending upon the availability of the respondents.


Expert from three areas Law, Education and Human Right activists inPakistan.

Sample Size                                      

Sample size consists of thirty experts from Law, Education and Human Right activists, ten from each field in the city of Lahore.

Sampling Technique

Convenient sampling technique was being used.

Study Instrument

A semi-structured interview developed for respondent samples.

Limitation of the study

Due to shortage of time and lack of resources it was not possible to contact individuals are suffering from discriminatory laws on case to case basis, therefore only experts opinion is asserted curtailing the validity of the research study.


“Our whole system needs to be changed. What can be expected from a nation that has no conscience, no morals left? We lack the ability to seek the truth and show goodwill to others. We have not progressed even one step since independence. What we need is a welfare system like Britain’s or Canada’s. All the industrialists have rummaged this country on one pretext or the other. Nobody has done anything for the nation. First of all, we must do away with the Hudood ordinance which is very discriminatory against women. As far as the Shariat Bill is concerned, it should not be implemented under any circumstances. The women of this country is already being exploited and facing much discrimination.”

“The laws of our country are very discriminatory against women. There is so much of domestic violence that it is unbelievable. Every year we receive over 400 such cases. This is not to be confused with the hundreds of calls for help we get from women. Every woman is not brave enough to take the matter to the court and complain against her husband or parents. Most of the times they are economically dependent on them and cannot come forward.”

The fact that, culturally, women are seen as possessions of their husbands sanctions different forms of partner-abuse – verbal, emotional and physical. It relegates wife-battering to the private sphere, discouraging the wife both from seeking help and outside intervention. Specific forms of domestic abuse include Karo-Kari, Watta Satta marriages, stove burning, and disfigurement through acid throwing. In certain parts of the interior, the practice of marrying women to the Holy Quran is still prevalent.


The governments should have adopted measures to improve the status of women;

  • Women do not face discrimination at any level- whether at home at work. Women by providing them equal opportunity in a viable
  • Efforts will therefore be aimed at: ensuring that prevalent negative attitudes, customary practices and harmful traditions that constrain women are changed, through committed efforts at every level; ensuring that all discriminatory laws are reviewed and subsequently repealed; ensuring that all forms of violence against women is eliminated.
  • The policy will be guided by: Principles of equality as per Islamic/ Quranic injunctions and as enshrined in the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan in particular, Articles 25 and 34; the strategic objectives and actions listed in the National Plan of Action.
  • Repeal of all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.
  • Embodying the principle of the equality of men and women in national constitutions or other appropriate legislation if not yet incorporated therein and to ensure, through law and other appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle;
  • Taking all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women;
  • Taking all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise;


  1. M.K.Chohan | “Islamic Hudood Laws inPakistan”, Khyber Law Publishers Lahore, 1997
  2. Barrister Hassan Farukh |  Al Imran is currently studying LLM in International Law, UK.
  3. Jahangir and Jilani, | The Hudood Ordinances, pp. 134-136.
    1. Sadaf Zahra, | Manual of Hudood Laws in Pakistan, Kausar Brothers, Law Publishers, Lahore 1998



Name……………………….            Age……………………………

Occupation …………………….             Address……………………….

  • Question was asked that are the law is discriminatory?
  • Nature of Discriminatory law is Islamic or UnIslamic?
  • What is the effect of discriminatory law on the status of women?
  • Courts decisions biased towards women due to discriminatory?
  • Discriminatory laws Repealed or Amended:
  • Appointment of Female Judges:
  • Crimes Increase:




It is further laid down that no divorce may be made absolute save after the woman’s period of purification after menstruation or childbirth is completed. This need to wait awhile often proves a breathing-space in which the man’s feelings of tenderness once more assert themselves over his irritations, and make him decide against divorce.

Further when a man finds sharing his life with a particular woman wearisome and irksome and decides on divorce, this decision of his does not suffice in itself to end their living together not does it become effective until the expiry of the “Iddat“, i.e. the period fixed by the Feqh during which a divorced or widowed woman may not be married to another man: and this period also gives a breathing-space which frequently results in the man’s change of heart and decision to continue the married bond with the wife he planned to divorce.

To make the problem of divorce vivid, divorce has been categorized ito three forms as given below,

  1. Talaq-i-raj’
  2. Talaq-i-bain’
  3. Talaq-i-mughlaz’


It is the divorce from which woman’s Nikah will not terminates immediately. Finally, after the execution of the formalities for a “revocable divorce” (Talaq-i-raj’) a man may not expel his wife from the home until the termination of the period of the “iddat” which may last anything up to three months, nor may the wife quit their joint home except in a desperately exceptional case during that period.

As the Sura LXV “Talaq“Divorce” enacts (verse 1):

 “You may not expel women from their houses, nor may they themselves quit, except if they have been proven guilty of some open lewdness (during the “iddat” period). These are limits set by God. Should any man transgress these limits he does so at the peril of his own soul, and to his own harm: for you know not whether God may bring about some new situation later (than the decision to divorce).”


It is the divorce after that women will no more wife of her husband whether it is during the iddat period or afterwards.


It is the form of divorce after that spouses are terminated from their legal relationship of husband and wife and also they can not remarry whenever there is no Halala. Halala is occurred after three divorces whether they are at once or within specific period.


There are three categories of talaq as given below,

  •       TALAQ-I-HASAN
  •       TALAQ-I-EHSAN
  •       TALAQ-I-BID’AT


It is that talaq which is being given to woman by man one by one in three periods of tuher “purification” and did not have sexual intercourse in that period.


The talaq, a man gives one talaq to his wife in one tuher and will not have sexual intercourse even then the passage of iddat period.


There can be different forms of it. For example, talaq has been given in the period of menses or tuher or “purification” period during which she had been intercourse or in one purification period, two or more than two divorces had been given to her. In all these situations, talaq will be valid the man who had done so, will do sin.


CEDAW & Pakistan


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an international bill of rights for women.  Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

The Convention defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

By accepting the Convention, States commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including:

  • to incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
  • to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
  • to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life — including the right to vote and to stand for election — as well as education, health and employment.  States parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Convention is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations.  It affirms women’s rights to acquire, change or retain their nationality and the nationality of their children.  States parties also agree to take appropriate measures against all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of women.

Countries that have ratified or acceded to the Convention are legally bound to put its provisions into practice.  They are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, on measures they have taken to comply with their treaty obligations.


OnDecember 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In 1979, the General Assembly adopted the Women’s Convention. As of December 1999, 165 countries have ratified the Convention. In June 1997 the Clinton Administration informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of its priorities for ratification of international treaties in the 105th Congress. TheUnited Stateswas active in drafting the Convention and signed it onJuly 17, 1980. It was transmitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in November 1980. In the summer of 1990, the Committee held hearings on the Convention. In the spring of 1993, sixty-eight senators signed a letter to President Clinton, asking him to take the necessary steps to ratify the Women’s Convention. In June 1993, Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced at the World Conference on Human Rights inViennathat the Administration would move on the Women’s Convention and other human rights treaties.

In September 1994, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported out favorably on the Convention, by a vote of 13 to 5 (with one abstention). Unfortunately, this occurred in the last days of the Congressional session, when several senators put a hold on the Convention, thereby blocking it from the Senate floor during the 103rd Congress. When the new Senate convened in January 1995, the Convention reverted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee has taken no action since then.

Importance of U.S. Ratification The Convention provides a universal definition of discrimination against women that provides a basis for every government’s domestic and foreign policy to combat discrimination. As one of the few nations that have failed to ratify the Women’s Convention, theUnited Statescompromises its credibility as a leader for human rights. TheUnited Statesmade ratification of the Women’s Convention by the year 2000 one of its public commitments at the UN Conferences on Women inBeijingin September 1995. TheUnited Statesmust keep that commitment.

The Women’s Convention is a tool that women around the world are using in their struggle against the effects of discrimination: Violence against women, poverty, lack of legal status, no right to inherit or own property, access to credit, etc. Women need theUnited Statesto speak loudly and clearly in support of the Women’s Convention so that the Convention becomes a stronger instrument in support of their struggles. WithoutUSratification, other governments can more easily ignore the Convention’s mandate and their obligations under it. Violence against women seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men. But violence against women itself emerges from the phenomenon of discrimination against women which makes them a target of violence. To effectively combat the crime of violence against women,USpolicy must address this linkage of discrimination and violence. By ratifying the Women’s Convention, theUnited Stateswill reinforce its commitment to eliminate discrimination and, therefore, move closer to effectively combating violence against women. TheUScould bring the benefit ofUSexperience in combating discrimination against women to this international forum.




For the purposes of the present Convention, the term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.



States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake:

a. To embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation if not yet incorporated therein and to ensure, through law and other appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle;

b. To adopt appropriate legislation and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women;

c. To establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination;

d. To refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation;

e. To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by any person, organization or enterprise;

f. To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women;

g. To repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women.



States Patties shall take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.



1. Adoption by States Parties of temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women shall not be considered discrimination as defined in the present Convention, but shall in no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued when the objectives of equality and treatment have been achieved.

2. Adoption by States Parties of special measures including those measures contained in the present Convention, aimed at protecting maternity shall not be considered discriminatory.



States Parties should take all appropriate measures:

a. To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women;

b. To ensure that family education includes a proper understanding of maternity as a social function and the recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children, it being understood that the interest of the children is the primordial consideration in all cases.



States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.



States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country, and in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right

A. to vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies; b. to participate in the formulation  of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government;

C. to participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country.



States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure women, on quall terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate  n the work of international organizations.



1. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality. They shall ensure in particular that neither marriage to an alien nor change of nationality by the husband during marriage shall automatically change the nationality of the wife, render her stateless or force upon her the nationality of the husband.

2. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children.



States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education and in particular to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

a. The same conditions for career and vocational guidance for access to studies and for the achievement of diplomas in educational establishments of all categories. In rural as well as in urban areas, this equality shall be ensured in pre-school, general, technical, professional and higher technical education, as well as in all types of vocational training;

b. Access to the same curricula, the same examinations, teaching staff with qualifications of the same standard and school premises and equipment of the same quality;

c. The elimination of any stereotyped concept of the roles of men and women at all levels and in all forms of education by encouraging coeducation and other types of education which will help to achieve this aim and, in particular, by the revision of textbooks and school programmes and the adaptation of teaching methods;

d. The same opportunities to benefit from scholarships and other study grants;

e. The same opportunities for access to programmes of continuing education, including adult and functional literacy programmes, particularly those aimed at reducing, at the earliest possible time, any gap in education existing between men and women;

f. The reduction of female student drop-out rates and the organization of programmers for girls and women who have left school prematurely;

g. The same opportunities to participate actively in sports and physical education;

h. Access to specific educational information to help to ensure the health and well-being of amities, including information and advice on family planning.



1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

a. The right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;

b. The right to the same employment opportunities, including the application of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment;

c. The right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and retraining, including apprenticeships, advanced vocational training and recurrent training;

d. The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to Equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as Equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work.

e. The right to social security, particularly in cases of Retirement,  unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age And other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid Leave;

f. The right to protection of health and to safety in working Conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of Reproduction.

2. In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of Marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:

a. To prohibit, subject to the imposition of sanctions, dismissal

On the grounds of pregnancy or of maternity leave and

Discrimination in dismissals on the basis of marital status;

b. To introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances;

c. To encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life, in particular through promoting the establishment

And development of a network of childcare facilities;

d. To provide special protection to women during pregnancy in types of work proved to be harmful to them.



1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of healthcare in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to healthcare

Service, including those related to family planning.

2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of the article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.



1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in other areas of economic and social life in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular;

a. The right to family benefits;

b. The right to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit;

c. The right to participate in recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life.



1. States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including working in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of this Convention to women in rural areas.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right:

a. to participate in the elaboration and implementation of development planning at all levels;

b. to have access to adequate health care facilities, including information, counseling and services in family planning;

c. to benefit directly from social security programmes;

d. to obtain all types of training and education, formal and nonformula, including that relating to functional literacy as well as inter alias the benefit of all community and extension services, in order to

Increase their technical proficiency;

e. to organize self-help groups and co-operatives in order to obtain equal access to economic opportunities through employment or self-employment;

f. to participate in all community activities;

g. to have access to agriculture credit and loans, marketing facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reforms as well as in land resettlement schemes;

h. to enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.



1. States Parties shall accord to women equality with men before the law.

2. States Parties shall accord to women, in civil matters, a legal capacity identical to that of men and the same opportunities to exercise that capacity. In particular, they shall give women equal rights to conclude contracts and to administer property and shall treat them equally in all stages of procedure in courts and tribunals.

3. States Parties agree that all contracts and all other private instruments of any kind with a legal effect which is directed at restricting the legal capacity of women shall be deemed null and void.

4. States Parties shall accord to men and women the same rights with regard to the law relating to the movement of persons and the freedom to choose their residence and domicile.



1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

a. The same right to enter into marriage;

b. The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;

c. The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and its dissolution;

d. The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital tutus, in matters relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the hildren shall be paramount;

e. The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;

f. The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, warship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

g. The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation;

h. The same rights for both spouses in respect of ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.

2. The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.


Why is CEDAW important?

CEDAW is important to the lives of women in theUnited Statesbecause it sends a powerful signal that our government truly believes that women should be treated fairly and equally under Current laws, while reflecting a commitment to the rights of all individuals, do not create rights for women that are specific to women’s needs in daily life. Through CEDAW ratification, theUnited Stateswould commit to ensuring that equality becomes a reality for all women and girls in such areas as civil and political rights; property rights; employment and compensation; education; health care and safety; and insurance, retirement, and other benefit plans. Not only will CEDAW impact the lives of women in theUnited Statesbut abroad as well.U.S.ratification would be a critically important statement of support for women elsewhere whose governments place little or no importance on adherence to the treaty’s provision as long as the world’s most powerful country does not, and it would increase immeasurably theUnited States’ own credibility in condemning human rights violations at home and abroad.



In June 1997 the Clinton Administration informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of its priorities for ratification of international treaties in the 105th Congress.

TheUnited Stateswas active in drafting the Convention and signed it onJuly 17, 1980. It was transmitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in November 1980. In the summer of 1990, the Committee held hearings on the Convention. In the spring of 1993, sixty-eight senators signed a letter to President Clinton, asking him to take the necessary steps to ratify the Women’s Convention. In June 1993, Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced at the World Conference on Human Rights inViennathat the Administration would move on the Women’s Convention and other human rights treaties.

In September 1994, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported out favorably on the Convention, by a vote of 13 to 5 (with one abstention). Unfortunately, this occurred in the last days of the Congressional session, when several senators put a hold on the Convention, thereby blocking it from the Senate floor during the 103rd Congress. When the new Senate convened in January 1995, the Convention reverted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee has taken no action since then.

Sixty-seven “yes” votes are required for the Senate to consent to ratification. Action by the House of Representatives is not required for ratification of international treaties. To date ten states have endorsedU.S.ratification in their state legislatures:California,Hawaii,Iowa,Maine,Massachusetts,New Hampshire,New York,North Carolina,South Dakota, andVermont. The Connecticut State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives have also endorsedU.S.ratification.


The Convention provides a universal definition of discrimination against women that provides a basis for every government’s domestic and foreign policy to combat discrimination.

As one of the few nations that has failed to ratify the Women’s Convention, theUnited Statescompromises its credibility as a leader for human rights. TheUnited Statesmade ratification of the Women’s Convention by the year 2000 one of its public commitments at the UN Conference on Women inBeijingin September 1995. TheUnited Statesmust keep that commitment.

The Women’s Convention is a tool that women around the world are using in their struggle against the effects of discrimination: violence against women, poverty, lack of legal status, no right to inherit or own property, access to credit, etc. Women need theUnited Statesto speak loudly and clearly in support of the Women’s Convention so that the Convention becomes a stronger instrument in support of their struggles. WithoutUSratification, other governments can more easily ignore the Convention’s mandate and their obligations under it.

Violence against women seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men. But violence against women itself emerges from the phenomenon of discrimination against women which makes them a target of violence. To effectively combat the crime of violence against women,USpolicy must address this linkage of discrimination and violence. By ratifying the Women’s Convention, theUnited Stateswill reinforce its commitment to eliminate discrimination and, therefore, move closer to effectively combating violence against women.

The Clinton Administration has developed a number of provisions that will be incorporated intoUSratification of the Convention to ensure that there will be no inappropriate intrusion on states’ rights or into the private domain.

Ratification of the Women’s Convention will entitle theUnited Statesto nominate to be a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which monitors reports of progress in the treatment of women from the countries that have ratified the Convention. In this capacity, theUSexpert could bring the benefit ofUSexperience in combating discrimination against women to this international forum.


KARACHI, Feb 28: Speakers at a seminar on Friday demanded of the government to edictally repeal all discriminatory laws and declare parallel systems like jigs, pinheads, etc., illegal.

They were speaking on the concluding day of a two-day seminar on the United Nations’ convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), organized by the Aurat Foundation.

“The government should bring all laws in conformity with the CEDAW, which it has signed, asPakistanis bound to make all laws in accordance with the international convention,” they observed.

Justice (retired) Sheik Usmani urged the civil society organizations to lobby with the women parliamentarians so that they could take a unified stand, regardless of their party affiliations, in the parliament whenever an issue relating to women was taken up.

He said that under the new laws domestic violence could now be tried by the family courts as the judges have been given the powers of the first-class magistrate, who can fine and imprison a violator.

He said that the family courts could direct a husband not to sell his property till the case was decided, while earlier when a court decided against a man and directed him to pay some amount to his wife, he used to sell all his property before implementation of the law and the woman could not get the share.

Justice Usmani was of the view that under the new laws the procedure to get Chula” (a woman’s right to divorce) had been made easy and women have been provided relief and now they can get Chula easily.

He said that many cultural and social traditions were being practiced under the garb of religion, but it would need a long time and struggle to change these centuries-old traditions.

Other speakers urged the government to sign the Optional Protocol of the CEDAW and said that after signing the protocol the government would become accountable to the committee, which could ask it against any violation of the CEDAW.

At present the government has reservations on at least two points in the CEDAW: one is its provisions should be in accordance with the constitution while the other is that under the cover of the convention a state could take another country to the international court by making a complaint against a violation of the CEDAW, they maintained.

The speakers said that many countries had expressed reservations on the second point as they felt that any country would take another, whom it opposed on various matters, to the court just to settle old scores.

They suggested that awareness campaign be launched at a large scale so that the masses and, in particular, the decision-makers become aware of these issues.

Shagufta Alizai, Nighat Shirin, Yunus Khalid, Shahid Fayaz and others also spoke. Representatives of civil society organizations, NGOs, political parties and parliamentarians were present.


KARACHI: The Legislative Watch Committee of Aurat Foundation,Karachi, organized a two-day capacity building workshop on ‘CEDAW: Concepts and Realities on Thursday at a local hotel. The speakers of the workshop were of the opinion that at a time when March 8 (International Women’s Day) was approaching, there was a dire need to make people aware as to what were the definitions of equality. They said that people chanted slogans for women rights and equality and the government also made promises but they, later, became a part of history.

They were of the view that it should be seen whether the government implemented the existing law pertaining to women legal, economic and social rights and followed the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of whichPakistanis a signatory.

Stating the objectives of the workshop Nuzhat Shirin, Chief Coordinator of the workshop said that it was aimed at creating awareness about CEDAW and its implementation in relation to the laws and policies related to women inPakistan.

Shad Fiaz, Senior Program Officer of Aurat Foundation, highlighted three basic principles of CEDAW; raising equality, non-discrimination and state obligation.

Yunus Khalid, the Resident Director of Aurat Foundation,Quetta, briefed the participants about the CEDAW, which reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights and dignity of human beings. Khalid said that despite being a signatory of CEDAW we did not follow the ethics and articles laid down by the said convention. He said that the UN demanded ofPakistanto give a progress report after one year of signing the treaty in 1996 and the govt said that it had recently submitted the same. The report was supposed to be made in consent with the civil society, NGOs and other parties concerned, but neither they knew about it nor were they given a copy of the submitted report. Shagufta Alizai, a woman activist, consultant associated with various branches of the UN, concluded the session.

The sitting Government CEDAW in preparation for Pakistan’s participation in the UN World Conference for Women at Beijing later that year. Pakistan official and non-governmental participation is largest in its history of participating in UN Conferences for Women. Punjab Government passes an Ordinance reserving one-third of all local council seats for Woman.

1996 A process of Beijing Follow-Up is launched by donors and government, which Includes  the formation of National and Provincial Core Groups to monitor the government’s implementation of the Platform for Action.

1997 Parliament passes a law making death penalty mandatory for the offence of Gang rape. This is in addition to the existing Hadood laws.The National Inquiry Commission on the Status of Women submits its report. Its recommendations include repeal of discriminatory laws, drastic increase of women’s political participation through affirmative action and the established of a Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. The Privatization Commission invites bids for the private purchase of the first Women Bank. WAF files a petition against the move and the Lahore High Court issues an order ensuring that the FWB mandate is upheld by any Buyer.

2000 Declaration of Devolution plan in Pakistan. Women were given 33% Participation

Share in the Local Government Elections. The Asian Development Bank gave an aid of 130 million dollars in respect of implementation of Women quota in the Judiciary.

Future Initiatives

• Lobbying with Line Departments and NGOs for implementation of NPA.

• Focus on awareness raising, advocacy in districts as an on-going activity of         PA/CEDAW 

Unit,Punjabtill March 2001.

• Strengthening the capacity of PCG, DCG and Task Force inPunjab.

• Proposal for two centers for disabled women inLahoreandRawalpindiforwarded to the Government.


Studies conducted by rights groups in Pakistanconfirm the widespread occurrence of sexual harassment of women at the workplace. But the government is dragging its feet on introducing a legal framework to check the practice and ensure a safe working environment for half of the country’s population.

Rights-based groups say the absence of laws that define sexual harassment as a punishable crime is resulting in an increase of such occurrences, causing tremendous mental and psychological agony to women employees in the formal and informal sectors.

“The right to live and work with dignity is an inalienable right of all people. Women, however, are denied this right, be it in agricultural fields or in corporate offices. Behavior that qualifies as sexual harassment restricts their active and effective participation in society according to their fullest potential,” says Hadia Nusrat, an activist based inIslamabad.

A groundbreaking investigation on the issue was recently concluded by the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (AASHA), a group of nine civil society organizations in the country. Its report, “Situation Analysis – Sexual Harassment at the Workplace”, says such harassment cuts across all boundaries – age, class and position. “Most working women in Pakistanat one time or another face this kind of violation of their rights from their colleagues, bosses or employers.”

The report is based on interviews with nurses in private and public sector hospitals, domestic workers, women workers in agricultural fields and brick kilns, women employees at multinational companies, public and private sector organizations and retail outlets. Of 17 nurses (between 16 and 21 years) interviewed 58 per cent faced sexual harassment by co-workers, patients or their relatives, and doctors. Only 11 per cent denied its existence while 29 per cent refused to talk.

Ninety-one per cent of the interviewed domestic workers (14 to 30 years) said they faced harassment from their employers. Similarly, 93 per cent of women employees in private and public sector organizations said they faced sexual harassment at the workplace. Most victims were dated by co-workers and employers, threatened when they refused to comply with sexual propositions by their bosses, and faced sexually suggestive comments, says the report.

At brick kilns and in agricultural fields the situation is particularly disturbing – the incidence of sexual harassment here is as high as 95 per cent. Interviewees said they faced harassment, or were raped and tortured by their employers.

The AASHA study, based on a small but diverse sample, is a manifestation of the magnitude of the issue affecting most women who are part of the active workforce. “Sexual harassment at workplaces is widespread and requires immediate government attention,” says Nasrin Azhar, a long-time rights
activist, currently working with Action Aid Pakistan which is a part of AASHA.

Apart from the fact that sexual harassment is gender-specific discrimination, says Azhar, it is an exercise of male power based on economic position and authority at the workplace. “Fear of losing
a job or their career being stifled, prevents victims from reporting incidents of sexual harassment.”

However, even those who muster enough courage to go public with their trauma find no justice; the country simply does not have the mechanism to deal with such cases. Besides, public, private and many not-for-profit organizations are also not prepared to address cases of sexual harassment if these are brought to their notice.

In 2002, Uzma Khan quit the NGO she worked for, when she saw that her employers were insensitive to the sexual harassment case she brought forward. Having been already humiliated by the government official (the accused) Khan felt further humiliated by the attitude of her colleagues, who asked her to hush up the matter because it involved a responsible government official on good terms with the NGO.

Instead of discussing the causes of malnutrition and child mortality – the purpose for which Khan met the government official, he was more interested in knowing how it feels when a mother breastfeeds her baby. “He was constantly asking about the pleasure a mother gets from the ‘let down reflex’. I knew exactly where his line of questioning was leading…I just walked out in disgust,” said Khan.

This is a typical case of sexual harassment that involved an aggressor whose behavior was ignored because of his position of power. In several such cases, victims are blamed for telling on male co-workers and employers if they report an occurrence. Says a spokesperson for AASHA, “The legal
procedures reinforce a woman’s experience of humiliation, embarrassment and public exposure, thus isolating her further.”

Meanwhile, the government is procrastinating – it is simply not moving on implementing the agenda of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) to whichPakistanis a signatory. The Ministry of Women’s Development admits the need for a legal mechanism to check sexual harassment at the workplace. And it says it is aware of its responsibility to take measures under Article 19 of CEDAW to protect women from sexual harassment and Article 2 of the UN Declaration on Violence against Women that specifically mentions sexual harassment and intimidation at workplace.

On request of anonymity, an official of the ministry says, “It is a crucial problem that needs to be tackled. The ministry is currently working on a draft policy framework to deal with the issue, which is to be presented as soon as it is ready. But we cannot just introduce some law on our own, it has to clear the cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and attitudes of the male-dominated bureaucracy.” But this is what the government has been saying for years.

This non-committal official response has prompted AASHA to prepare its own code to deal with the issue – the Code of Conduct for Gender Justice at the Workplace. It wants the government to adopt the Code and give it legal protection as it envisages the issue in its entirety – from reporting to investigation/enquiry, and punishment.

AASHA has prepared its Code following an exhaustive process of countrywide consultations with public and private sector organizations and also civil society groups. It has been prepared in line with the provisions of ILO Convention 100 (Equal Remuneration for Equal Value of Work), Convention 111
(Discrimination in Employment and Occupation) and with the relevant clauses of CEDAW.Pakistan is a signatory to all these international conventions.

But the military government – which discussed the adoption of the Code at a cabinet meeting last September – deferred a decision when various ministers raised objections on the wide scope of the definition of sexual harassment. “It would have also enabled women workers to lodge complaints against their male companions without having to disclose their identity, hence creating an atmosphere of distrust at the workplace. The cabinet asked the ministry to come up with more realistic and applicable ways to deal with the issue,” confided an official of the Women’s Development Ministry.

AASHA however, is undeterred. A spokesperson says, “We are lobbying with the private sector and civil society organizations to voluntarily adopt the Code. Our efforts have so far enabled 10 organizations to implement the Code, proving that it is workable and enforceable, unlike what the government says.”



The three religions have remarkable differences in their attitudes towards divorce.

Christianity abhors divorce altogether. The New Testament unequivocally advocates the indissolubility of marriage. It is attributed to Jesus to have said, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).

This uncompromising ideal is, without a doubt, unrealistic. It assumes a state of moral perfection that human societies have never achieved. When a couple realizes that their married life is beyond repair, a ban on divorce will not do them any good. Forcing ill-mated couples to remain together against their wills is neither effective nor reasonable. No wonder the whole Christian world has been obliged to sanction divorce.

Judaism, on the other hand, allows divorce even without any cause. The Old Testament gives the husband the right to divorce his wife even if he just dislikes her:

“If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled” (Deut. 24:1-4)

The above verses have caused some considerable debate among Jewish scholars because of their disagreement over the interpretation of the words “displeasing”, “indecency”, and “dislikes” mentioned in the verses.

The Talmud has recorded several specific actions by wives which obliged their husbands to divorce them:

“If she ate in the street, if she drank greedily in the street, if she suckled in the street, in every case Rabbi Meir says that she must leave her husband” (Git. 89a)

The Talmud has also made it mandatory to divorce a barren wife (who bore no children in a period of ten years):

 “Our Rabbis taught: If a man took a wife and lived with her for ten years and she bore no child, he shall divorce her” (Yeb. 64a)

Wives, on the other hand, cannot initiate divorce under Jewish law. A Jewish wife, however, could claim the right to a divorce before a Jewish court provided that a strong reason exists. Very few grounds are provided for the wife to make a claim for a divorce. These grounds include: A husband with physical defects or skin disease, a husband not fulfilling his conjugal responsibilities, etc. The Court might support the wife’s claim to a divorce but it cannot dissolve the marriage. Only the husband can dissolve the marriage by giving his wife a bill of divorce. The Court could scourge, fine, imprison, and excommunicate him to force him to deliver the necessary bill of divorce to his wife. However, if the husband is stubborn enough, he can refuse to grant his wife a divorce and keep her tied to him indefinitely.

Worse still, he can desert her without granting her a divorce and leave her unmarried and undivorced. He can marry another woman or even live with any single woman out of wedlock and have children from her (these children are considered legitimate under Jewish law). The deserted wife, on the other hand, cannot marry any other man since she is still legally married and she cannot live with any other man because she will be considered an adulteress and her children from this union will be illegitimate for ten generations. A woman in such a position is called an agunah (chained woman). In the United States today there are approximately 1000 to 1500 Jewish women who are agunot (plural for agunah), while in Israel their number might be as high as 16000. Husbands may extort thousands of dollars from their trapped wives in exchange for a Jewish divorce.

Islam occupies the middle ground between Christianity and Judaism with respect to divorce. Marriage in Islam is a sanctified bond that should not be broken except for compelling reasons. Couples are instructed to pursue all possible remedies whenever their marriages are in danger. Divorce is not to be resorted to except when there is no other way out. In a nutshell, Islam recognizes divorce, yet it discourages it by all means. Let us focus on the recognition side first. Islam does recognize the right of both partners to end their matrimonial relationship. Islam gives the husband the right for Talaq (divorce). Moreover, Islam, unlike Judaism, grants the wife the right to dissolve the marriage through what is known as Khula’. If the husband dissolves the marriage by divorcing his wife, he cannot retrieve any of the marriage gifts he has given her. The Quran explicitly prohibits the divorcing husbands from taking back their marriage gifts no matter how expensive or valuable these gifts might be:

“But if you decide to take one wife in place of another, even if you had given the latter a whole treasure for dower, take not the least bit of it back; would you take it by slander and a manifest wrong?”(Quran 4:20)

In the case of the wife choosing to end the marriage, she may return the marriage gifts to her husband. Returning the marriage gifts in this case is a fair compensation for the husband who is keen to keep his wife while she chooses to leave him. The Quran has instructed Muslim men not to take back any of the gifts they have given to their wives except in the case of the wife choosing to dissolve the marriage:

“It is not lawful for you (Men) to take back any of your gifts except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah. There is no blame on either of them if she give something for her freedom. These are the limits ordained by Allah so do not transgress them”

(Quran 2:229)

Also, a woman came to the Prophet Muhammad seeking the dissolution of her marriage; she told the Prophet that she did not have any complaints against her husband’s character or manners. Her only problem was that she honestly did not like him to the extent of not being able to live with him any longer. The Prophet asked her: “Would you give him his garden (the marriage gift he had given her) back?” she said: “Yes”. The Prophet then instructed the man to take back his garden and accept the dissolution of the marriage. (Bukhari)

In some cases, A Muslim wife might be willing to keep her marriage but find herself obliged to claim for a divorce because of some compelling reasons such as: Cruelty of the husband, desertion without a reason, a husband not fulfilling his conjugal responsibilities, etc. In these cases the Muslim court dissolves the marriage.

In short, Islam has offered the Muslim woman some unequalled rights: she can end the marriage through Khula’ and she can sue for a divorce. A Muslim wife can never become chained by a recalcitrant husband. It was these rights that enticed Jewish women who lived in the early Islamic societies of the seventh century C.E. to seek to obtain bills of divorce from their Jewish husbands in Muslim courts. The Rabbis declared these bills null and void. In order to end this practice, the Rabbis gave new rights and privileges to Jewish women in an attempt to weaken the appeal of the Muslim courts. Jewish women living in Christian countries were not offered any similar privileges since the Roman law of divorce practiced there was no more attractive than the Jewish law.

Let us now focus our attention on how Islam discourages divorce. The Prophet of Islam told the believers that:

“among all the permitted acts, divorce is the most hateful to God”(Abu Dawood)

A Muslim man should not divorce his wife just because he dislikes her. The Quran instructs Muslim men to be kind to their wives even in cases of lukewarm emotions or feelings of dislike:

“Live with them (your wives) on a footing of kindness and equity. If you dislike them it may be that you dislike something in which Allah has placed a great deal of good”(Quran 4:19)

Prophet Muhammad gave a similar instruction:

“A believing man must not hate a believing woman. If he dislikes one of her traits he will be pleased with another” (Muslim)

The Prophet has also emphasized that the best Muslims are those who are best to their wives:

“The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


However, Islam is a practical religion and it does recognize that there are circumstances in which a marriage becomes on the verge of collapsing. In such cases, a mere advice of kindness or self restraint is no viable solution. So, what to do in order to save a marriage in these cases? The Quran offers some practical advice for the spouse (husband or wife) whose partner (wife or husband) is the wrongdoer. For the husband whose wife’s ill-conduct is threatening the marriage, the Quran gives four types of advice as detailed in the following verses:

“As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, (1) Admonish them, (2) refuse to share their beds, (3) beat them; but if they return to obedience seek not against them means of annoyance: For Allah is Most High, Great. (4) If you fear a break between them, appoint two arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers; If they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation” (Quran 4:34-35)

The first three are to be tried first. If they fail, then the help of the families concerned should be sought. It has to be noted, in the light of the above verses, that beating the rebellious wife is a temporary measure that is resorted to as third in line in cases of extreme necessity in hopes that it might remedy the wrongdoing of the wife. If it does, the husband is not allowed by any means to continue any annoyance to the wife as explicitly mentioned in the verse. If it does not, the husband is still not allowed to use this measure any longer and the final avenue of the family-assisted reconciliation has to be explored.

Prophet Muhammad has instructed Muslim husbands that they should not have recourse to these measures except in extreme cases such as open lewdness committed by the wife. Even in these cases the punishment should be slight and if the wife desists, the husband is not permitted to irritate her:

“In case they are guilty of open lewdness you may leave them alone in their beds and inflict slight punishment. If they are obedient to you, do not seek against them any means of annoyance” (Tirmidthi)

Furthermore, the Prophet of Islam has condemned any unjustifiable beating. Some Muslim wives complained to him that their husbands had beaten them. Hearing that, the Prophet categorically stated that:

“Those who do so (beat their wives) are not the best among you”(Abu Dawood)

It has to be remembered at this point that the Prophet has also said:

“The best of you is he who is best to his family, and I am the best among you to my family” (Tirmidthi)

The Prophet advised one Muslim woman, whose name was Fatimah bint Qais, not to marry a man because the man was known for beating women:

“I went to the Prophet and said: Abul Jahm and Mu’awiah have proposed to marry me. The Prophet (by way of advice) said: As to Mu’awiah he is very poor and Abul Jahm is accustomed to beating women”(Muslim)

It has to be noted that the Talmud sanctions wife beating as chastisement for the purpose of discipline. The husband is not restricted to the extreme cases such as those of open lewdness. He is allowed to beat his wife even if she just refuses to do her house work. Moreover, he is not limited only to the use of light punishment. He is permitted to break his wife’s stubbornness by the lash or by starving her.

For the wife whose husband’s ill-conduct is the cause for the marriage’s near collapse, the Quran offers the following advice:

“If a wife fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best”(Quran 4:128)

In this case, the wife is advised to seek reconciliation with her husband (with or without family assistance). It is notable that the Quran is not advising the wife to resort to the two measures of abstention from sex and beating. The reason for this disparity might be to protect the wife from a violent physical reaction by her already misbehaving husband. Such a violent physical reaction will do both the wife and the marriage more harm than good. Some Muslim scholars have suggested that the court can apply these measures against the husband on the wife’s behalf. That is, the court first admonishes the rebellious husband, then forbids him his wife’s bed, and finally executes a symbolic beating.

To sum up, Islam offers Muslim married couples much viable advice to save their marriages in cases of trouble and tension. If one of the partners is jeopardizing the matrimonial relationship, the other partner is advised by the Quran to do whatever possible and effective in order to save this sacred bond. If all the measures fail, Islam allows the partners to separate peacefully and amicably.

Gender X


“Gender refers to the social differences and relations between men and women which are learned, vary widely among societies and cultures, and change over time.”

“The term “gender” refers to the socially constructed roles and responsibilities assigned to men and women in a given culture or location.”

“Gender refers to the socio – cultural definitions of man and woman, the way societies distinguish men and women, and assign them social roles.”


Equality is, According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights etc.


Equity is, According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, “the value of the shares issued by company.”


Gender Equality, equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behavior, aspirations, and needs of men and women are considered, valued and favored equally.


Gender Equity means fairness of treatment for men and women, according to their respective needs. This may need men and women, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.

ABC Of Women Workers’ Rights And Gender Equality, ILO, 2000, p.48.  


Gender mainstreaming, known also as mainstreaming a gender perspective, is “the process of assessing the implications for men and women of any planned action including any legislation, policies, and programmes in any area and at all levels.”


There are two concepts of gender equality. First one is Islamic and the second one is western and there is a hell of difference between both of them. Nowadays our society is greatly under the influence of western culture. As a result, the traditional role of Muslim women has in particular undergone a noticeable change. The changes in the male – female relationship and freedom of women in economic and sexual matters have posed a great threat to the traditional pattern of Muslim culture which, in fact, is the most crucial problem of the 20th century Muslim world. There are several verses in Quran which clearly shows that the Islamic social system does not grant women equality in the western sense.

Historically, in West, Mary Wallstone, wife of aBritaincommunist philosopher, presented the concept of gender equality first time in her book, “Vindication of the Rights of Women”, published in 1972. But Islam has given the concept of gender equality 1400 years ago.

There are number of evils exists in West just because of their concept of gender equality. It is really very perplexing that on the one hand, man of West experiments in the core of sea, harnesses the space and plays with galaxies but, on the other hand, the staus of his women is very shameful.


According to the Qur’an, God created woman and man simultaneously, of like substance, and in like manner. Several verses state that

God created man and women from a single life-cell or being. Both man and women have male and female components and both together form the human species.

It is a clear teaching of the Qur’an that man and woman are equal in the sight of God, and the Qur’an uses both feminine and masculine terms and imagery to describe the creation of humanity from a single source.

Finally, woman was not created to serve the ends of man, nor vice versa: both were created to serve God’s purpose. Both are called upon equally to be righteous, and women and men are “members” and “protectors” of each other.

Woman is recognized by Islam as a full and equal partner of man in the procreation of humankind. He is the father; she is the mother, and both are essential for life. Her role is not less vital than his. By this partnership she has an equal share in every aspect; she is entitled to equal rights; she undertakes equal responsibilities, and in her there are as many qualities and as much humanity as there are in her partner. To this equal partnership in the reproduction of human kind God says:

“O mankind! Verily We have created your from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other...” (Qur'an, 49:13; cf. 4:1).

She is equal to man in bearing personal and common responsibilities and in receiving rewards for her deeds. She is acknowledged as an independent personality, in possession of human qualities and worthy of spiritual aspirations, her human nature is neither inferior to nor deviant from that of man. Both are members of one another.

In order to understand what Islam has established for woman, there is no need to deplore her plight in the pre-Islamic era or in the modern would of today. Islam has given woman rights and privileges which she has never enjoyed under other religious or constitutional systems. This can be understood when the matter is studied as a whole in a comparative manner, rather than partially. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no problem. It is almost impossible to find even two identical men or women.

This distinction between equality and sameness is of paramount importance. Equality is desirable, just, fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights – but not identical – shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality.

The status of woman in Islam is something unique, something novel, and something that has no similarity in any other system. 


We are all of this view that education is the ultimate solution to overcome gender inequality. I think this is not only formal education which can pave the way for equality.

The known world literature is a by-product of patriarchal socio-economic set-ups that attempt to consolidate man’s superiority position his supremacy. During education, when a male student study poetry and fiction and writer gives him upper edge. Will it not be the situation that his superiority complex grows further? In fiction take the example of Ismat Chughtai and Sa’adat Hasan Manto. They brought into vogue many notorious Freudian concepts that the Muslim society was not accustomed to. Both of them paved the way for new liberal thought in literature. Subsequently, other writers also took up sexual subjects in their work quite boldly.

The role of media in this context is not contented, because in media, they are just exploiting issues of women instead of giving solutions to these problems. They have just made women as a glamorous entity. They have forgotten that she is not just a pretty face; she is lot more than that. Nowadays media can play a vital role in creating awareness among common masses of the society.


  1. Kamla Bhasin, 2000, Understanding Gender. Dehli, Pauls Press.
  2. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
  3. A summary review of UNESCO’s accomplishments since the 4th world conference on women (Beijing 1995)
  4. Handouts provided by Madam Ra’ana Malik