Human Rights

Lodharan Pilot Project’s Forum Meeting Advances Social Change in Sahiwal

Sahiwal: The Lodharan Pilot Project, under the Awaz II program, recently organized a bi-monthly district forum meeting in Sahiwal. The meeting saw participation from district forum members, civil society representatives, government officials from the district social welfare department, the Women Crisis Center, the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, Awaz Agahi Center resource persons, village forum members, and members of the transgender community.

Najma Rani, a district forum member, updated participants on actions taken based on the previous meeting’s decisions. She shared significant progress on the Christian graveyard issue in village 86/6-R, Sahiwal, noting that the Assistant Commissioner had visited the site and instructed the Patwari to locate nearby land for the Christian community’s graveyard.

Fauzia Jabeen, the District Women Protection Officer, emphasized that cases of gender violence referred by the Awaz Agahi Centers would receive immediate attention. She announced that a panel of lawyers for free legal aid is being finalized to provide timely assistance to affected women.

Okasha Rasool, Deputy Director of Social Welfare, Sahiwal, reported that the registration of persons with disabilities in Baitul Mal has commenced and that the district Baitul Mal committee is now operational. He introduced the Hemat Card, which aims to empower persons with disabilities by providing technical education, discounts on public transport fares, and a quarterly stipend.

Adnan Luqman, District Officer of the Child Protection Welfare Bureau, recommended setting the legal age for girls at 18. He mentioned that this proposal has been forwarded to the Punjab Assembly for approval.

Mugheez Ahmed Khan from the Peace and Justice Network, a provincial-level partner of the Awaz II program, informed participants about ongoing legislative efforts. He highlighted that recommendations for the Punjab Child Marriage Act have been submitted to the Child Protection Welfare Bureau Department. Additionally, PJN has completed drafts for the interfaith harmony policy and the Hindu Marriage Act, which are now with the Ministry of Minority Affairs for finalization.

Bishop Abraham Azeem Daniel spoke about the district forum’s efforts to promote social harmony, while Kiran Shaikh, a victim support officer, advocated for a shelter home in Sahiwal on behalf of the transgender community.

Major Imran, a representative of the Salvation Army, announced plans to initiate community development programs in six Sahiwal communities in collaboration with the Awaz Agahi Centers.

Jalil Butt, representing the Civil Society Network, revealed plans to conduct training programs for district forum members, focal persons, and village forum resource persons on gender-based violence and child marriage. These training sessions aim to enhance the community’s capacity to prevent incidents of gender-based violence.

During the meeting, the village forum also requested the upgrade of the girls’ primary school in village 190/9AL, which the district forum members committed to communicating to the relevant authorities.

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