“Dialogue in Practice” also known as Dia Praxis based in Norway and Pakistan launched a campaign along with International public policy and gender reforms specialist Salman Sufi to tackle the issue of forced marriages.
The project was launched in Oslo and is not limited to Pakistan only, but will eventually apply in all SAARC countries that have legislation in place against forced marriage. It will also establish a SAARC-wide hotline where a “collective database will be maintained of tips and complaints of forced marriages”.
In addition to this, the blueprint of violence against women centres already established in Punjab will be made available to the SAARC countries for replication and these centres will be used to rescue victims and provide them with shelter.
For this project, the two parties have teamed up to help victims of forced marriages in Pakistan from the expatriate Norwegian-Pakistani community.
Speaking at the event, Nina Bjorlo of the Norway Police said, “The initiative is aimed at tackling the issue plaguing the diaspora community,” adding that she had “dealt with such cases during her work at the Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad”.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Norway Arusha Cooray said she was “pleasantly surprised at some of the work done in Pakistan to combat gender-based violence,” adding that “it will be a great avenue for both countries to collaborate on”.
Moreover, with the anti-forced marriages campaign, a strategy to establish an airlines alliance operating from within the EU and other SAARC countries will be established and the airlines will provide brochures with helpline numbers in seat pockets and specific codes for victims that are in distress and are being forced to travel. With that being said, the embassies of concerned countries will be connected with these helplines in order to assist victims’ with the help of local law enforcement.
SAARC governments that already have legislation in place against forced marriage will be provided with implementation mechanisms that have already been developed. Moreover, local NGOs and organisations working on the same issue will be made part of the campaign. Starting from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, the campaign aims at getting the entire SAARC region on board eventually.