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WOMEN ACTION FORUM (WAF)

WOMEN’S ACTION FORUM (WAF) The Women’s Action Forum was formed in 1981 as Zia ul-Haq’s program for the Islamization of the legal system gathered pace Women were especially concerned with the Hadud Ordinances of 1979, the 1984 Law of Evidence, and the law of Qisas and Diyas Women—in particular, professional women working in large cities—were concerned that the changes in the legal system that had been introduced, or were being contemplated by the government of Zia ul-Haq, would reduce their status in the society to the point at which they would have to abandon their careers Although most of the WAF’s members identified themselves as Muslims, they viewed religion as a private matter and did not believe that it should shape public policies The WAF was successful in slowing the pace of change, although it failed to remove the Hadud Ordinances from the statute books In February 1983, the WAF sponsored a series of protests against the changes proposed by the Zia administration in the Law of Evidence These changes proposed that in all cases other than those covered by the Hadud Ordinances, two male witnesses, and in the absence of two male witnesses, one male and two female witnesses, would be required to prove a crime against a woman The WAF was of the view that these changes had nothing to do with Islam, but reflected the obscurantism of the regime On 12 February a clash between women activists and the police in Lahore led to a number of injuries and arrests This incident was a defining moment for women’s movements in Pakistan



It not only slowed down the government’s efforts at Islamization but also sent a message to all politicians in the country that women’s issues had to be taken seriously

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