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Pakistan: Absence of maternity leaves add to women's plight

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Islamabad | May 4, 2021 9:44:05 PM IST
In most professional fields of Pakistan, the concept of maternity leave for women is almost non-existent, observers have noted, which had added to the plight of the women in the country.

The gender wage gap is already above 40 per cent and such restrictions are likely to widen the divide. As per the laws of Pakistan, women are eligible for 12-week maternity paid leave. The extension usually leads to pay cuts or complete dropout from the workforce, writes Sania Arif for Pakistan Daily.

Most countries around the world offer 14-17 months as maternity leaves, according to WageIndicator Labour Law Database, maintained by the Centre for Labour Research, and analysts have urged Pakistan to learn from it.

In 2020, the Senate passed a new maternity bill, passed by Senator Quratulain Marri. It stated that women will get six month-leave on the first child, four months on second birth and three months on the third one.

"Female employees aren't given maternity leave in the public sector. Even in the Senate, women are told not to produce so many children," said Marri.

The bill was passed in October 2020 despite facing opposition from the government.

However, observers maintained that the implementation of the bill has been hardly seen in the public or private sector in Pakistan, according to Pakistan Daily.

The number of married working females are quite low and the threat of losing the jobs lingers on as companies don't offer any policy regarding maternity leaves, writes Anif.

Furthermore, there are several legal, professional and social hurdles in the proper implementation of this policy, which hinders social progress in Pakistan.

Pakistan maintains a poor record of women's rights. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said: "HRCP registered a rise in complaints of domestic and online violence, indicating the increased vulnerability of women during the pandemic. Based on reports in the press, HRCP recorded 430 cases of honour killing in 2020, involving 148 male and 363 female victims."

In a report, the US State Department underlined a wide array of reasons for the plummeting women's rights in Pakistan and the increase in female marginalization in the country. The report said that the reasons include bureaucratic corruption, a dearth of accountability and investigation, especially when it comes to violence against women, reported Pakistan Today.

The report also highlighted human trafficking as a crime that directly impacted women in the country. (ANI)

 
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