Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Mir Saifullah Wednesday said that recently a bill was introduced in the State Legislature seeking amendments to the Criminal Law for providing more protection to the Women folk and the same is likely to be passed during the next session of the Legislature. He said the Criminal Law Amendment Act-2013 is a comprehensive piece of legislation and once passed will further strengthen the existing laws for protection of rights and justice to women in the State.The Minister was speaking at the inaugural session of the 2-day international Seminar on ‘Gender Justice: A way forward’ organized by School of Legal Studies, Central University of Kashmir in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Public Administration (J&K Branch) at Gandhi Bhawan, University of Kashmir here today.
The Minister said that concept of gender Justice was in the minds of the framers of Naya Kashmir Vision Document, which laid down the foundation for economic, social, educational and political rights of women in the state, following which the State Legislature adopted these principles in the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. Saifullah said that State Government has over the years enacted several laws and initiated important measures to empower women and address under-representation of women in various fields. He said besides enjoying equal rights at par with men, special provisions against abuse, violence, hooliganism and other forms of misconduct against women have already been enacted. He said women, who are unable to approach courts due to financial constraints, are entitled for free legal aid and support in any court of the State.Saifullah said that women under the Panchayat Raj Act have been provided reservation in the Panchayats besides two women members were nominated in the State Legislative Assembly through reservation quota for women making J&K legislature the only in the entire country to have such reservation quota.
The Minister said women must know that laws and acts exist for their empowerment, upliftment and protection and they must be acquainted enough to know their rights and duties, besides they should not consider themselves lower in status in comparison to men, rather they are entitled to every due right in living a life of honour and dignity. He said awareness camps and programmes are necessary in this direction to reap benefits out of the laws and acts meant for welfare of the women.In his presidential address Vice Chancellor, Central University of Kashmir Prof. Abdul Wahid said that promoting gender justice is a lofty objective and every effort in this direction needs to be appreciated.
He said historically bias against women has been found globally and practice of burying daughters alive in Pre-Islamic Arab World and practice of Sati among Hindus of India were some such infamous examples of bias against women. He said that discrimination, exploitation, dowry deaths, harassment of women at work places, child marriage and female foeticide are happening in the country despite constitutional guarantees for gender equality and various International Declarations and Treaties that exist for protecting women’s rights.Prof. Wahid said that women are the principle providers of care and support and no society can call itself civilized unless it treats its women with care and affection. He said mind set of both men and women needs a positive change and institutions of education, media, religion, NGOs, besides government have a key role to play in promoting gender justice.
Prof. B. B. Pandey former Head and Dean Faculty of Law Delhi University, Prof. Mehraj-ud-Din Mir Head and Dean School of Legal Studies Central University of Kashmir and Mr. A. M. Watali, Vice Chairman, Indian Institute of Public Administration (J&K Branch) also addressed the inaugural session and threw light on various aspect of gender justice.
The two day international seminar will have 10 sessions. As many as 120 papers were received from all over the country, out of which 72 papers were short listed for participation in the seminar. Besides heads of various departments of the Kashmir University, Central University of Kashmir, jurists and other legal experts and students, the inaugural session was also attended by participants from States of Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh etc. Prof. Mohammad Afzal Zargar, Registrar Central University of Kashmir presented the vote of thanks on the occasion.