TALIBAN SHARIAT AND FATA WOMEN

PAKISTANI WOMEN IN BURQA

As Pakistan is about to define the parameters of talks with Taliban, certain questions and concerns are missing from our media, particularly analysing the current debates on electronic and print media.  The question of Women plight in federally administered tribal areas (FATA) has so far eluded the discourse on our mainstream media.

During the past decade, FATA was reported only in the context of drone attacks, martyrs vs non-martyrs, US War or our own war, military operations and the subsequent displacement of large number of IDPs. The human side of this war especially its gender aspect remained least discussed in our media.

The miseries of women in FATA due to mass migration, internal displacement, Rape abuses, and killings in this war on terror received little attention or sympathy. No help is available to women who were widowed, sexually abused, and their children orphaned during this war on terror. Women and children in camps and different villages are traumatized, but due to conservative cultural norms and traditions, they can’t seek help or counselling. According to a recent study a great majority (71% of respondents in IDPS camps), believe that they have suffered depression, anxiety and other psychological issues particularly among women and children. Women are less likely to share their burden and have learnt to dull their feelings with silence.

The already existing vacuum created by article 247-b of Pakistan’s constitution, which put FATA outside the jurisdiction of Pakistan’s Supreme Court and parliament, has further isolated   the region due to the ongoing militancy.  The vacuum was filled with traditions, local customs, tribal Jirga’s, and FCR ( frontier crimes regulations) further widened when Taliban entered the area, exploiting the situation and have now made this administrative system ineffective.   Their stern dogmatic views have made Women right to education, vote and free movement as the main casualty in the current situation.

With estimated seven million population of FATA women   constitute up to 60% of the work force in the agricultural sector, mainly to earn their sustenance and support their families.  With the Taliban take over many were restricted to stay indoors. The loss of work force pushed some of the families, especially those families who has no male breadwinner into extreme poverty.

Taliban foremost ideological agenda seemed to be annihilation of educational Institutions across FATA.  Girls were banned to attend schools coupled with bombings of girl’s schools in FATA by Taliban.  There are news reports that the remaining schools were taken by Army as base camps. According to official data of Fata Secretariat, 450 schools in FATA has been bombed in recent years. With less than 3% literacy rate among FATA women, and the destruction of infrastructure, and forcefully stopping girls from going to school has further effected the lives of the women in one of the poorest region in the world.

Along with education sector bombing of schools by Taliban, health sector has had major setback by targeting polio workers in the region.  The already non-existent health infrastructure in FATA further deteriorated due to the ongoing militancy. FATA has 41 hospitals for its estimated seven million populations. There is one bed in hospitals for every 2327 people as compared to 1450 in the rest of Pakistan. For a population of 8189, only one doctor is available and a mere 43% people have access to safe drinking water. Taliban banned women stepping out of the house without a mehram. With restricted mobility, women and children cannot visit health clinics thus affecting their health and wellbeing.

The recent developments of talks offer to Taliban by the state of Pakistan and subsequent demand of Taliban of imposing shariat ignores the women question, in fact the lives of people in FATA altogether . Does this mean that the impending imposition of official shariat will replace the old system operating in FATA? Will imposition of shariat with state blessing acknowledge the basic rights of women? Will women right to education, health, and free movement be ensured?

The implementation of shariat by Taliban even in its very strict sense ideally should not have affected the education, health and work rights of these women.  But unfortunately with their myopic understanding of  shariat girls were forced to stay indoors, schools were closed and their mobility was restricted in the Taliban controlled areas in FATA.  It is very much clear that Taliban are averse to women role even limited one, like women in FATA has outside their homes. This is their policy agenda of shariat regarding women.

Taliban rule in FATA has created a system that runs parallel to the one already operating (somehow dysfunctional though) making it more oppressive and subjugating for women of the region. During Taliban shariat rule in Afghanistan many women died of minor alignment because of their restricted mobility, only allowed to travel with mehram and restriction that women would be seen only by female doctors.

Pakistani Taliban shariat version, which is more tribal and customary in nature rather than Islamic. Taliban in Pakistan have given the same edicts which were given by Taliban in Afghanistan regarding women, making it one of the most misogynists’ regimes in the world.  Taliban has achieved its aim of becoming non-state national actor  ( offering talks)  by showing its concern about the constitution ,and the future political agenda it wants to set but we know that these concern will only be entertained by Pakistan in areas which doesn’t come under the jurisdiction of the  constitution like FATA. However with state approval this tyranny will become official.

All these basic concerns of women in FATA who are already burqa-clad has restricted mobility, and suppressed in the name of Patriarchy however should be addressed if we want to talk about durable solutions in the region. Women become the Worst victims of war – and the biggest stakeholders of peace. How do our country expect a ‘return’ to peace (and we need to question the composition of such a peace where women who are already a part of marginalised system (FCR, JIRGA, DASTOOR, RIWAJ) will be further persecuted with state blessings and tribal selective shariat. The precedence of Taliban rule and their treatment of women are just next door to us and is not a very healthy one. Ignoring the women question and their stakes in the possible imposition of Taliban version of shariat in FATA, in our dialogue with them is a criminal neglect, and on which our liberals are quiet since achieving peace is somewhat desperate priority by the state of Pakistan. However achieving peace by ignoring half of population will be a farce.

REFERENCES http://www.sangatsouthasia.org/pakistan-conflict-ridden-region-federally-administered-tribal-areas-noreen-naseer.html#.Uu1DsPl_uSo

2. http://www.fatareforms.org/study-launched-idp-challenges-way-forw

within the group where it intends to change nature of influence from military to political and also to

be a national non-state actorard/

3. http://www.acted.org/en/pakistan-jalozai-camp-emergency-situation-camp-idps

In Conversation With a Prostitute in Peshawar Details Written by Mona Naseer- Co Author N Yousufzai

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“Prostitution” is a taboo subject, never spoken about in public by those who consider themselves part of the elite class of society. It is seen as something that could harm the elite class’s dignity just through speaking about it, because the women who are subjected to such a life are considered ‘low lives’ and ‘sinful women’. Discussing such women is therefore a sin, as these women, according to the views of the dignified class, have lead men astray and made them commit sins. This gives those men, who themselves go as clients to these sex workers, an easy way out from being held accountable by society.

Prostitution (sex work), as the word has become known as, is considered to be the oldest industry in the world, although this is disputed by some feminists who claim midwifery to be the oldest. In the subcontinent however, prostitution traces its history back to the ancient rulers of Chandra Gupta Mauyra in 300 BC to the arrival of the Mughal rulers. The Mughal rulers are said to have given special patronage to sex workers until it was commercialised under British colonial rule. When Pakistan was created as an Islamic Republic, the prostitution business continued but under new restrictions, particularly after the enforcement of the Hudood Ordinance in 1979, which ordered the abolition of brothels across the country.  Therefore neither law nor religion has ended the business in Pakistan, instead those who continue to support it have benefited from being tactical and discreet. Whilst those who are living from the means created by the prostitution business have found accessories and means to live outside the law.

Pakhtun society is no exception to that. Although Pakhtun society has such a strong notion of morality and honour that is tied up to women and their bodies, they still choose to look the other way when it comes to the prostitution business. Since some believe these traditions, social and religious values are imposed on them by elite rule. A definite state of denial prevails in Pakhtun society at large.

Below we have a conversation with a ‘working girl’ that contradicts this myth about Pakhtun honour and exposes the reality. Karima (not her real name) works on a street known for the ‘dancing girls’ and has been doing this work for most of her life. Here is what she tells us:

Me. How long have you worked here?

K. I don’t remember the exact number of years. I guess ten to twelve years.

Me. Ten to twelve years but you seem very young, are you  in your early twenties?

K. I am twenty six.

Me. How do you feel about your work- Do you like it?

K. What would I feel about it?  I was sold when I was only twelve years old. My step father sold me to a man for fifty thousand rupees. I spent two years at his place and after he passed away- his first wife sold me to this woman here. She is like my mother now.

Me. Do you pay this woman?

K. She pays me; she is the one who runs this place with her husband. They both bring customers and we get paid for our daily needs. She sometimes gives us money for shopping. But she is a nice woman. I told her I don’t want to serve more than five men in one night. Sometimes all the girls get upset, since our friend died of some infection. No one knows what had happened to her. She got sick and never got well.

Me. Does anything make you upset at work?

K. I know we all don’t have any other place to live but this house. No one wants to try to escape from here. Because we know we will end up somewhere like this or may be even worse. We, the girls discuss how these men treat us- that’s when we get upset. I know we are prostitutes, which means we don’t deserve respect but these men treat us like dogs. Some of them who get drunk physically abuse us.

It is obvious from this conversation with Karima that the industry thrives from being supported by women, like the one Karima describes as selling her off. These women, who are subjected to such a way of life, each have their own stories to tell and their own regrets. Whilst society sees these women as ‘vile’, one thing is certain, extreme poverty and being sold into the business is what drives prostitution in Pakistan. The common factor of extreme poverty can be seen from the areas that the business thrives in, such as the Shahi Muhallah of Lahore (known as Heeri Mandi), mini brothers of Hayatabad in Peshawar, or roads, public pick up points such as bus stops, parks and even hospital waiting rooms or Gulbahar city or Sadder area .

Research maintains that women, who engage in sex work independently, do so when they have no other options left to survive. Psychologist and anti-prostitution activist Melissa Farley says that prostitution is nearly always coercive and lacking in full consent. In many areas where sex workers are found to be roaming freely, such as streets or markets, they are usually extorted by the police. Under Section 55/109 of the Pakistan Penal code; those who are a danger to society or under suspicion of being a danger to society must be arrested. However police in Pakistan use this as a way to extort money from these women, as these so called law enforcers know that they are sex workers. Therefore the sex workers who solicit their work independently are hounded by the police to extract their margin from the workers profit.

However those sex workers who stay in rented houses, salons or guest houses looking after the so called needs of the upper middle class of Hayatabad in the city are not harassed by the police for a margin, rather this job is left to an aunty or a pimp.

During the holy month of Ramazan, those men who use brothels or sex workers, lay low and so customers stay away since piety takes over them. But during this month you see these women begging near bakeries, for bread to break at the end of the days fast.

Peshawar has a fluid and diverse population and its oldest profession operates with discretion, bordering on the verge of invisibility. The arrival of destitute Afghan women or internally displaced refugees from other parts of Pakistan has not helped eradicate the business. Most of these women are now sole surviving heads of their families; some of them have paid the ultimate price of survival by selling their bodies. We have heard of stories that a girl sold her body for a piece of bread in a refugee camp.

The price of these survival sex workers to the ones sitting in brothels differs by a few hundred rupees or a few thousand, depending on their age, beauty and area of operation within the country. The brothels operating in Peshawar has girls from different provinces in Pakistan, mostly from areas where it is easy to obtain girls through monetary benefits by marrying them. These men who marry girls by buying them from their parents play the role of recruiters as they then further merchandise these young girls to pimps.

Pakhtun society that claims it has honour and morality tied to women and their bodies, with no hesitation sell their sisters and daughters under this notion of traditional marriage to men who turn these women and girls into sex workers. There is no law in Pakistan that stops the sale and purchase of women for the purpose of marriage, citing tradition and custom of the area as the reason why.

1.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-119586-Four-men,-nine-women-arrested-    from-Peshawar-brothels

2.http://www.dawn.com/news/1046355/prostitution-spreads-as-law-looks-on

3.http://tribune.com.pk/story/353666/no-law-to-stop-sale-purchase-of-women-for-marriage/

4.http://tribune.com.pk/story/357246/alarming-trend-chitrali-women-trafficked-forced-into-prostitution/

5.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/1711362.stm

6. Taboo ,The hidden culture of a red light area   Oxford publication  forward by I.A REHMAN

7.Interview with a Civil Judge Peshawar .

8.1.http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-119586-Four-men,-nine-women-arrested-from-Peshawar-brothels

9. Interview with a Sex-Worker Peshawar

 

Apologise Atizaz you will end up in just another killed.

 

 

image of shoe

 

 

So another one bites the dust and many more might follow

The death of Atizaz Hussein bangash has once again mobilised our people particularly on social media to demand the highest bravery award of the land (Nishan Haider) literally named after the title given to fourth caliph of Islam by his mother . Haider means the brave. Atizaz Hussein  has been hailed as hero.

Atizaz Hussein 15 becomes the youngest boy to have a tackled a suicide bomber who tried to enter his school. He wanted to capture the suicide bomber and stop him from killing his school mates. Previously we had suicide bombers of his age to have blown themselves up, which has resulted in the killings of thousands of people.

He has once again galvanised the distorted and divided opinion of Pakistan into giving him a medal for his bravery at least, if not dealing  promptly and efficiently with what plagues Pakistan.

According to Atizaz cousin who spoke to few journalist in Pakistan ,  that people in our area would like him to be recognised and celebrated like Malala a Pakistani youth campaigner.` who stood up for girls and children right to education.

When I read this unprecedented story of this young boy courage , or for that matter anyone who loses their life in this losing war, I say to myself another one bites the dust. More than 60,000 have lost their lives, and more than million displaced through operations in areas which we hold responsible for all the mayhem, but we are still not sure where the root of the evil lie actually there , is it our war or not   or how to deal with it.

While the dust settle over Atizaz Hussein I won’t be surprised if this all doesn’t fizzle out sooner than I expect it to be and we might be over Atizaz Hussein martyrdom and he will end up in the figures quoted above.  The progenitor   of anti-war operations will start making those advocating military might feeling guilty (force   doesn’t solve anything, these are our wayward brothers) and in the meantime  the wayward brother or good Muslim will come back to hit us once again to make us among the faithful’s. Yes those who advocate that these are our wayward brother might declare us as killed and our killer as Shaheed (martyrs).Honestly i wont even know the benefit of being one as a woman .

Not that I advocate violence or military might against your own people or state has monopoly over violence,  but one thing I would like to ask how do you deal with a situation when  a 15 year old suicide bomber  is ready to blast off couple of hundred in school . And another 15 year old ready to tackle a young suicide bomber to keep his friends and school safe.

How long will our kids end up paying the ultimate sacrifice of their young unexplored lives. While we debate in our conferences what is the easiest way out of the whole mess. I guess even i  have  nothing  new to say in my blog , talk or no talk. Let’s toss a coin.

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A STORY OF SCHOOL WRITTEN BY MOHAMMED SALEEM

SCHOOL PIC 2SCHOOL PIC 1
The name of our school is Abdul Malik khotay Swabi. In our village khotay swabi this is the only primary school in the area, we don’t have any secondary or high school in the area. Our village has nearly 300 hundred families living in the area and nearby.
Our school has the strength of +170 kids, both boys and girls, since we don’t have any girl’s school in the area. Nearly one third of the strength is of girls in our school.
The school came into existence in 1997 when one of the local landlord showed his generosity by donating two kanal (approximately 1000 sq. yard) to the government. To acknowledge the generosity of the landlord the school has been named after him, hence the name Abdul Malik khotay .Because our beloved govt is busy spending most of the money on making atom bomb. Purchasing missiles, rockets, submarines so Pakistan can become a bastion of Islam that is the reason they don’t have enough resources to buy land for our school. I have heard most of the state schools in our country has been constructed on donated or charity land.
Our school is approximately 5 kilometre from the main city centre of swabi. Since the land is donated by landlord Abdul Malik, the peon in our school is also employed by his recommendation. Although our peon is equally a poor guy like the rest of us studying in the school. He takes care of our school honestly and diligently. His name is Ghulam Mohammad but everybody calls him Carter because everybody says he looked like then American president jimmy carter.
Our school building consists of two rooms and one small hallway, the rest it’s all a yard. Since our school starts from nursery and goes up till class fifth .One room is allocated for class fifth and fourth, means shared by them, while another room is shared by class three and two. Our teachers has devised a way of managing two classes in one room by making both classes sit opposite to each other facing the wall. Class one sits in the hallway while the nursery kids sit in the yard maybe that’s why they are called lower class. Although it’s strange for me because we all are kids of lower class parents. We don’t have any chairs and benches in our classes, most of us sit on coarse rugs or plastic sheets. The kids sitting outside in yard or hallway doesn’t even have this facility to sit on, I have heard this is the story of all state schools in our beloved Pakistan .The oldest high school of our area which was built in the year 1890 then 40% of the children use to sit on rugs and plastic sheets . Twenty years back they use to have benches and chairs in the same school. All the state primary school has children of lower class. Middle class and upper middle class children go to private schools. Like Within one square kilo meter of swabi there are nearly 30 private schools to cater to the needs of upper and middle class Children.
We have two teachers to look after and teach the whole school. It was in the newspaper they say that there are approximately 25000 school in the whole of our province operating like our school. How we are taught by two teachers I am not sure but they have sticks in their hands, but we do love them. Normally lunch to them is served from our home. We get quite a few days off, when the teachers have some important work which is pretty often or when the weather is bad like raining ,hailstorm or when our parents needs us on the farms to help them .
Our school has poor local people studying in it or children whose parents has come from areas like Bajaur , Mohmand , Dir , Swat . These people along with the locals work on the fields of the big landlords. We could be expelled by them anytime they want ,although it doesn’t happen that often but the possibility is always there, hanging on our heads like sword of Damocles . We are helpless internally displaced people from our lands. Lands which belonged to our forefather has been rented out to the state guests like Uzbek, Chechens Tajik Arabs by our beloved country.
Our school witnessed different leaders, ruling Pakistan from Nawaz Shariff to Sherpao, from mullah (clergy) to nationalists but nobody has paid any heed to it .Once a non-governmental organisation promised us shoes, that was the most cheerful and bustling day of our school so many parents came to register their kids in school but unfortunately they never turned up and most of the children and parents went back home disappointed. Our teacher said that the people of NGO most probably Loaded elephant size of shoes on the tiny waist of an ant. The ant is crawling slowly towards its destination.
Underneath the shadow of this flag, there are two classes.one called poor and lower middle class, while another upper middle and rich class

STORY TRANSLATED BY MONA

FATA from NOBLE JIHADI SAVAGES TO TERRORISTS

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The transformation of people of FATA from Noble Jihadi to terrorists for Pakistan did not take long?  FATA was mostly left to its own devices, used and discarded whenever needed.

The utility of FATA and its people for Pakistan state can be traced back to Kashmir jihad of 1948, when the slogan of Islam was used by the state. . Afghanistan jihad of 1979 further sealed FATA status as Jihad producing factory. World capitalists power engaged in their ideological battle with Soviet Union and Pakistan military state played the role of big fat ring leader to the crimes committed in the name of jihad. From providing human fodder to drugs factories, Jihadi madrasa all were produced, operated and executed with the blessing of Pakistan state. Afghan jihad was the seal of authority which stamped FATA and its people as Noble Jihadi for Pakistan.  . When  the  time span of jihad as military option  in Afghanistan  expired with the disintegration of soviet union , the exalted  status of FATA was lost on our state, however  it continued to keep FATA under laws introduced by British 1901,basically as a  part of Pakistan but isolated politically ,socially and economically . Pakistan military and state continued to patronize, more than 15,000 Arabs, Uzbek and Chechen who were repatriated to and settled in FATA to fight holy war against the Soviets and to be further used for future projects.

The break from romance of Noble jihadi savages to Terrorists came when 9/11 happened. American war against AL Qaeda and its consequences for Pakistan in result of suicide bombing in settled areas and, ultimate operations of Pakistan army. During Afghan War nearly 1,000 or so unregistered madrassas which were established primarily in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), many of which preached jihad against infidels begun to preach the same jihad against its mentor.

.Pakistan Military has launched twelve major operations since 2002 against Taliban, Al-Qaida and minor operations trying to cleanse FATA from terrorists and or give back its exalted status of producing for decades now only the noble jihadi or the good Taliban ( strategic assets ).

One  such operation started on December 18 when a suicide bomb attacked an army checkpoint in North Waziristan, a stronghold for al Qaeda-linked Taliban militants on Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan.

“From the first day of the attack until now 70 civilians have been killed,” said a tribal elder in Mir Ali village who declined to be identified for fear of state reprisals. Residents said bodies were left in the open in the villages of Mosaki and Hasukhel as terrified villagers fled the area.

“We are moving our families to keep them safe but the army’s mortars and shells are following us,” said Asad Sher of Mir Ali. “Please tell us where is safe. The army is demolishing our homes and bazaars

More than 70 civilian has lost life in this game between the military and  the bad Taliban although our army spokesman has denied the civilian casualty and claimed to have killed terrorists (now) and mostly foreigner like Uzbek and Chechen. The drone supporter will now   have enough to talk about and discuss.      The liberals of our media has welcome the operation, mostly citing the reasons that Taliban were not ready for peace talks and declaring the civilian casualty of women and children as collateral damage.

While the military has denied that it’s a prelude to a military operation “This is not, and I repeat, not the beginning of a larger military operation in North Waziristan,” said Major General Bajwa of the ISPR.

The military sympathetic journalists with better access to military mind-set has described it breaking of the code by the villagers, citing one article  the writer  says this is what happens when you break the code. The agreement with [Taliban commander] Gul Bahadur has been standing since 2006. It clearly stipulates upon the locals that either they take care of the foreigners, or we do. That’s why it’s reasonable for army to deploy just one division [with roughly 10,000 men] in an area where there are over 20,000 hardened fighters…because there’s a code.”

The article further citing his source continued: “Our deployment is enough for us to establish a writ. Without a go-ahead from the civilian government for a final mop-up operation, we are in a ‘holding position’: not doing too much and not doing too little. But the foreigners have exploited that agreement. They’ve settled here. And now, they’ve broken the code.

Under the Collective responsibility  of FCR (FRONTIER CRIME REGULATIONS), not only those harbouring the terrorists who dared to attack the army contingent but the whole village and area is responsible for the crime committed against the state, so everybody from children to women are responsible and must bear the brunt of army shelling, cobra gunship helicopters and mortars.

The most liberating and humanistic response came from Dharna performing politician of Pakistan Imran khan of PTI , who values anti  drones  campaign very highly and has a narrative which has convinced half of Pakistan population that is ” Drones produces militants”. Although why drones happens he is not too bothered but he sells it successfully to the urban Pakistan.” Jihadi savage Pukhtun brothers has revolted against Drones”.

In an official statement on Saturday, Imran repeated his condemnation of the attack against the military personnel in NWA which led to the martyrdom of five soldiers.

He said civilians – especially women and children – were already the victims of drone attacks and now a military action was causing more suffering to those, who were not responsible for this war.

Although his humanistic approach never allows him to question the military establishment

“Why are these tribal  kept as jihadi   or more importantly why is this area kept under political social and economic isolation and deliberately kept militarised?

If military claims that they had to take out foreigner to perform their sting operation then please ask the  military why is this area still hosting remnants of Afghan jihad?

And when the jihadi  challenged the military might, only than military had to under take an operation against them  and in the process punish the whole of population indiscriminately? In plain words Army held the whole civilian population including women and children to take care of   jihadi remnant  of Afghan War.

If drone kill militants along with local populations than do accept the fact that not only drones but these state gone wrong proxies and Pakistan army  is equally responsible for the murder, displacement and misery of the people of FATA. The other mainstream political parties like ANP and PPP has made feeble attempt to call for an inquiry into civilian deaths.While  Defa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) has termed the attack as US ploy to sabotage the dialogue process and urged the government to end military operation in the tribal areas ,an expected response by  crying  hoarse over drones, peace dialogue gone wrong by the far right.

The liberals can cheer the operation but it’s not an operation which will bring peace to the rest of Pakistan if the rest of Pakistan include other than Punjab.  It might even help in the recruitment drive of the Taliban exploiting the already bruised emotions of the civilian, as we are already  seeing  video’s and pictures being circulated on social media of civilian deaths and internal displacements . .

The  unfortunate reality of the day however  is that this indiscriminate killing will be hushed, when  the  system of  corrupt Malik and political agent providing few thousand rupees as compensation  will be given to the extremely improvised population for their dead  . Once again another story regarding FATA misery which had hit headlines of Pakistan newspaper will die down.

The golden goose called FATA for Pakistan establishment, military, TTP, and other vested interest will continue to play the role which it has been playing since 1948 Kashmir jihad. We will continue to have places in our villages called sheedano danda (our martyrs burial ground). The question is for how long the piecemeal solutions and, the special status of FATA will  prevail with urban Pakistan ?

Work Cited  .Noreen Naseer , Federally Administered Tribal Areas:  Conflict and Militarisation paper read at JNU .
http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE9BM05720131223?irpc=932

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http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-221783-How-the-Code-was-broken-in-Mirali-in-NWA

THE boy will carry the GUN (topak ba olee ) and Girl belongs to somebody else bin ( pradee dairaan khazala ) CULTURAL BARRIER TO GIRLS EDUCATIONS

GIRLS EDUCATION AND THE QUESTION OF CULTURAL BARRIER IN FATA.

. Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is one of the poorest regions of Pakistan, which is partly a result of its being kept in deliberate political and social isolation. The provision of education is poor in both quantity and quality. Approximately 80 % of the adult population cannot read and write, and the literacy rate among women is lower than four per cent a figure which is debatable.   The Constitution of Pakistan (Article 25-A) stipulates that, “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law,”  but still  it has failed miserably when it comes to girls education in FATA.

According to the Annual Development Programme 2013-14 for Fata, Rs3.68 billion has been allocated for education, of which Rs2.8 billion is being used for 184 on-going  Schemes while Rs877 million will be used for 33 new schemes.  The literacy rate for the area still stands at only 24.5% even in wake of significant expenditures made by the FATA Education Department. According to the FATA Education Atlas 2011-12 report released by Directorate of Education FATA Education Management Information System, the proportion of girls enrolled in educational institutions stands at 7.5% in South Waziristan, 4.26% in North Waziristan, 21.03% in Kurram Agency, 4.75% in Bajaur, 5.72% in Mohmand Agency, 5.15% in Orakzai Agency and 16.13% in Khyber Agency. .  Currently there are 1,015 primary schools for girls in FATA. Today putting aside all the other reasons for barrier to girl’s education I want to talk and discuss the cultural barrier to girl’s education in FATA. Although I accept poverty, social isolation and   decades old militarisation has played havoc with the lives of the people in the region.

When we discuss cultural barrier to girl’s right to education, Religion and Social norms of our society plays a major role in it. Both religion and social norms over laps each other. The concept of Purdah (veil) and haya (chastity) has been exploited cleverly by the society to their advantage, which has reduced the social mobility of women.   Woman inside the four walls of her house is always a much better appreciated woman than one who steps out of the house for unnecessary reasons. Education is an unnecessary luxury.   A woman or girl seen by outsider or even her name known to other men is a matter of shame for a Pukhtun man. The Islamic concept of woman being from a rib of a man makes her only a property.  It is the psyche of ownership of their women and the animal instinct of do not cross my boundary. Strict patriarchy set up muddled with religion   female member gives all the taught respect to male members of the family. They either have to sit on the floor or keep standing while the patriarch is around. ! The honour and shame of men is identified with women.  It cannot be other way around. Cultural and religious beliefs and practises interface with each other to form multiple and overlapping disparities that exclude girls from their right to education.

Patriarchy and preference for sons in pukhtun and Fata is another factor where a girl is seen as burden. Her birth is never celebrated or any gifts or feasts are given to family and friends. A son on another hand is a male heir, a matter of pride for the family who not only should be invested in because he will not only bring back the dividends but will carry the gun (topak ba olee)

. A girl is looked at in terms like ( pradee dairaan khazala ) Pushto term  meaning garbage which will eventually be thrown in another person bin. The belief that the biological family does not benefit from educating a daughter, since the girl becomes a member of her husband’s family when she marries .Although the same girl who cannot bring in to her family financial help but is supposed to run the whole house, from the kitchen to working on fields, that work is not considered as work. House hold work is her job and primary duty and for that she doesn’t need to go to school.  Her stepping out of the house is considered a liability. A girl goes to school than who will help out at home.  Domestic work is her foremost job and for that her mother is enough to teach her all the skills required. Household chores are given irrefutable importance and daughters are taught to internalize behaviour that is non-rebellious and submissive to the male head of households. The nature of girls’ labour, in the form of household chores, agricultural and home-based work, often means this work is unreported, unvalued and invisible.

Extremely improvised . deeply conservative society along with  the  militant activities  like destroying of thousand girls school  in the region has further  adversely  effected  the enrolment  of  girls  in schools . Poverty and culture together plays a role which doesn’t let one break free the cycle so easily.    Unfortunately the current situation in FATA where there is no security of life and survival is all that matters makes it difficult even for those parents who might be willing to break free of the vicious cycle of cultural and social barrier and educate their girls.

Cultural relativism the idea that we cannot compare cultures to one another because no culture is “better” or “worse” than another –   Interesting lines and justification for those who believes in superiority of their culture and thinks that no matter what happens change is not something to be welcomed or accepted. Change is equated with corruption of their values and practises.  Whatever is practised and carried on for a century has a logic and reason behind it.  When I look at my culture (Pashtun) it has evolved with times but unfortunately the Gender defined roles has more or less remained the same. Societies in the past has resisted changed but is the duty of the state to intervene and bring about this much desire change through education.  Bring fata under mainstream laws of Pakistan and own it .  FATA and its daughter’s sisters   are desperately waiting for this change. Image