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Let’s Stop Denying Women Their Basic Rights

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Hani is a resident of Kech district and is one among dozens of other girls in Balochistan who goes to school every day to have a bright future. Keeping all her problems and obstacles at bay, she plans to take along her illiterate cousins to school but they are surrounded by imbroglios all around.

It isn’t startling to note that a myriad number of women yet struggle to get their basic rights conferred. This issue remains a gigantic global concern, especially in a developing country like Pakistan where the women are denied their due rights in a traditionally patriarchal society.

Comparing the gender gap in the country, situation for women is worse in Balochistan, province which ranks highest amongst its counterparts in terms of female illiteracy, unemployment, gender discrimination and so forth.

To make the situation more potent, many distinguished NGOs and organisations are dedicating their energies to shape a prosperous platform for women who are mired in mental, social, economic and financial instabilities in the province.

Balochistan has a handful of educated women in few regions.

One such area is Balochistan’s more competitive division in regard of education, Makran, which mainly comprises of Turbat, Gwadar and Panjgoor. Makran division has witnessed higher female literacy rate not merely because of the government-run schools but private schools which bridge this gap. Keeping this aside, the Makran division has produced highly-celebrated and learned poets, technocrats, politicians, businessmen, and women working in civil and administrative services.

Naya Daur caught up with two such twin students with exceptional talents in the University of Turbat to talk about the existing hindrances confronted by the contemporary women in Balochistan. Karima and Banadi hail from a very conservative family of Kolahoo.

“Our story runs parallel to that of millions of women across Balochistan who yet struggle to get their basic human rights vested. We were told to not pursue our education beyond high school. But after persuading our parents, we gave them words to get married as soon as we do our masters,” they told Naya Daur.

“Nonetheless, our persistence and perseverance is paying off and we are working to promote girls education in Balochistan. Buoyed by our achievements, we are excited to push the envelope further. We are very optimistic that our struggle will soon pave the way for many girls to join the schools,” said Banadi.

Women in Balochistan are also subjected to abuse and violence. One such instance is the honour killing. This so-called practice isn’t rare in the province. The Aurat Foundation (AF), a Pakistan-based non-governmental organisation working for the rights of women has dispensed manifold instances of violence against women. In its most recent reports, it revealed that approximately 50 people, of which 30 were women were killed in the name of honour by their relative in the year 2018.

Nasirabad division in Balochistan tops this list.

Muhammad Ashfaq Mengal, the programme officer of the NGO said that as many as 17 women committed suicide owing to small family feuds whilst 29 people, of which 21 were women confronted barbaric torture.

Surprisingly, most of the cases go unreported due to the vastness of the province and because many villages are very remote; therefore, there are hardly any investigative reports whilst journalists based in those villages who reveal these prosecutions are threatened often.

Violence against women isn’t a new phenomenon in Balochistan and it isn’t the only area where the women suffer. In rural areas of the province, poverty and child marriages are extreme. These combined with all the pros and cons have made the women undergo challenges.

The Pakistan Health Demographic Survey (PHDS) reports that with 785 deaths for every 100,000 women, the Balochistan province leads the country in maternal mortality rate.

Small school-going girls who are tied up the guardian knot not merely suffer sexually but are denied their ground-laying opportunities. It isn’t wrong to call them children who are raising children.

Illiteracy, dearth of access to services, jobs and poverty, coupled with all the other problems have increased the woes of the women in the province; therefore, with limited opportunities, these hapless women are entirely depended on their male counterparts.

Balochistan, since being given the status of a province after the disintegration of the One Unit by General Yahya Khan, has faced problems of insufficient educational institutions and lack of qualified teachers which has resulted in challenges of access and quality. To curtail these problems concerning women, all the available resources need to be utilized properly, for it is mentioned that no country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.

The education system of the province should be deemed as a very special sector by protecting it from social and political instabilities. Without the support of the female counterparts in the social and economic sector, the province is predestined to go through even greater problems.

Lastly, it is hoped that the federal and the provincial governments take special and concrete measures to reduce the gender disparity and more funds are allocated for female education so that more female are educated which would be an helping hand not merely for the province but the country as a whole.

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