#MeToo catching up in Pakistan: activist

Salman Sufi

The #MeToo movement that is raging India is also catching up in Pakistan, says Salman Sufi, a advocate of gender equality from the neighbouring country.

"In India, it has emerged as a very important movement, in Pakistan its catching up… there have been some cases that were reported, but in two to three months, it will be like India," Sufi told DH in Mumbai on Saturday.

He said it needs to be ensured that the #MeToo campaign is not misused. "It is a very important movement," he said, adding that he is in the process of creating a portal where complaints can be addressed and subsequently the allegations will be checked and cross-checked.

"We have to understand that the process of character assassination cannot be reversed," he said.

On Sunday, Sufi will receive the prestigious Mother Teresa award, instituted by the Harmony Foundation, in Mumbai for his extensive services for women's empowerment and social uplift of the marginalised masses in Pakistan.

Sufi, who has authored the Punjab (Pakistan) Protection of Women Against Violence Act, 2016, said both in India and in his country, women face similar issues.

"There are issues like violence, domestic violence, lesser salaries, dowry. The womenfolk comprise 49% of Pakistan's population," he said.

On the new Imran Khan-led regime in Pakistan and peace with India, he said, "If both countries could resolve their issues, it would be a powerhouse."

"Both countries should together tackle poverty, social ills and empower women… in fact, this would change the perspective in a big way," Sufi said, adding that what is necessary is to ensure that there is people-to-people contact.

"This itself would change the situation in a large way," said Sufi, the former director general of Punjab's Strategic Reforms Unit (SRU).

Despite opposition from various sectors, Sufi successfully implemented the act in the form of establishment of Violence Against Women Center, Multan.

The center serves as the first in the line of defence for the victims and brings together all justice delivery mechanisms under one roof: first aid, police reporting and investigation, prosecution, medical examination and treatment, collection of forensic and other evidence, psychological evaluation and counseling, as well as post-trauma rehabilitation.

Serving as a director general of the SRU, Sufi has provided a platform for youth to participate in introducing reform and play an integral role in key government processes in the implementation of reforms.

Being a policy specialist, Sufi’s well thoughtout and future-oriented reforms have impacted lives of millions all across the province of Punjab with an attempt to end all forms of violence against women, women and youth empowerment, human rights, citizen facilitation and awareness programs.

His passion to see women in Pakistan, often confined to the four walls of the house, as an empowered and equal gender led him to launch Pakistan's first ever 'Women on Wheels' campaign, which aims to increase the independence and mobility of women by providing them with free motorcycle lessons and motorcycles.

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#MeToo catching up in Pakistan: activist

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