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Forced Marriage Conference
A transnational conference between the Embassy of Pakistan, Oslo and the Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad on “Forced Marriage Conference: Practice, Prevention and Change” was held from 6-7 May 2017. The Conference was held simultaneously at Oslo and Kharian through video link to deliberate on this important topic.
Several local Norwegian and Pakistani welfare organizations collaborated with the two Embassies in this programme. These included: Dia-Praxis, IHSG (International Health and Social Group), Pakistansk kulturforening (PKF Skedsmo), Plan International Norway, IMDI and Minority Development in Norway, while the Punjab Chief Minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit (SRU) on the protection of women, UNWomen Pakistan, National Commission on the Status of Women and the Government of Punjab supported the programme in Pakistan.
The conference was addressed by State Secretary of the Government of Norway, Laila Bokhari who said forced marriages were the major cause of violence and sexual abuse of women which could not be tolerated and both Norway and Pakistan should work together to get rid of this menace. Salman Sufi, advisor to Chief Minister Punjab on SRU, through video link in Kharian said that the government has also been working on a proposal to provide brochures or information cards in the planes to the passengers coming to Pakistan from Norway, Britain and other countries with the questionnaire whether they are being compelled by their parents and family to come to Pakistan with a design of a forced marriage so that the remedial steps can be taken even at the airports on their arrival. Sufi added that Islam did not allow forced marriage while in Pakistan laws, there was a punishment of three years imprisonment on forcing somebody to marry against his/her will
A large number of Pakistani expatriates settled in Norway and their close kin were among the participants of the seminar that was also addressed by the Pakistani ambassador to Norway Riffat Masood and Norwegian ambassador in Islamabad Tore Nedrebo in Kharian while Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa, representative of UNWomen in Pakistan, Jamshed Qazi and others also spoke.