ISLAMABAD, January 17, 2020: Responding to a deeply mysoginistic speech by Senator Mohsin Aziz where he cited culture as a reason for oppressing women, PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “When it comes to women’s rights I expect all parties to adopt a bipartisan approach in the parliament. You cannot justify honour crimes or any other oppressions, let alone condemn entire rights movements, in the name of culture. I would urge everyone not to play the religion and culture card because our religion guaranteed women better rights in the 7th Century, which should have grown with the demands of social change. It is our fault that we have not given the freedom, equality and power that we should have by now. It isthe State’s responsibility to nurture those values and carry those rights into the modern world. We [women] are neither a second gender nor will we condone honour crimes in this House”.
“Women’s rights are violated regularly in our society but for a progressive party like the PPP, they form a major component of our manifesto and value system. I can proudly say that most of the progressive legislation in the country today has been brought by the PPP or other women legislators and among the provinces by Sindh,” she said.
Thanking those who played a pivotal part in women’s rights movements over the decades, Rehman said, “Those women spearheaded the women’s movement with an unprecedented bravery, offering invaluable sacrifices as they faced a dictator like Zia ul Haq. The PPP’s name was attached to this movement as well, as it too was led from the front by a woman and Pakistan’s twice-elected Prime Minister, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The civil society at the time, of which I was a member, was facing police lock-ups and stern resistance. But we were not doing it for our own rights. We don’t fight for ourselves. We fight for those who are without privilege or power as honour crimes are mostly faced for those living in deeply vulnerable situations, in rural or tribal areas or situations where they don’t know their rights or are unable to exercise them, with no access to lawyers or justice.”
Ending on a lighter note, she said, “The new womens movement too must be supported and if Senator Mohsin did not like slogans like “heat up your own dinner” from the last women’s demonstrations, he should be careful as we will make sure he has to heat up his own dinner too”.