Archive for the ‘Persecuted Pakistan Women’ Category

No matter, this is happened in the Religious Land Of Peace. So What !!

November 28, 2010

Nearly 1,200 women killed, 321 were raped and 194 gang raped in Pakistan in 2010: Report

…………IANS, Nov 26, 2010, 11.01am IST|| TOI

ISLAMABAD: Of the 1,195 women murdered in Pakistan this year, 98 were killed after being raped, says a report by the country’s first helpline for women and children.

The Madadgaar helpline released a report in Karachi Thursday on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Geo News reported Friday.

The report was compiled from news reports published in the mainstream Pakistani media.

The increasing number of incidents of violence against women is a “blemish on the face of our society and seriously hamper the efforts for empowerment of women and gender equality in Pakistan”, said Madadgaar’s project coordinator and president of the Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA), Zia Ahmed Awan.

He said it was “sad” that reports of violence against women have come from all parts of the country. This should be a wake-up call for the government.

The report further said that 321 were raped and 194 gang raped in Pakistan in 2010. a total of 1,091 were tortured, 126 were burnt, 383 were kidnapped, 316 were tortured by police and 491 committed suicide.

A total of 4,870 cases of violence against women were registered by police, while the total number of cases reported since the year 2000 came up to 79,909.

Awan said over 2,400 cases were reported from Punjab, 1,070 from Sindh, 998 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa and 313 from Balochistan. The number of cases were less in Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa and Balochistan provinces because of a strong tribal culture and lack of access to the media.

The UN General Assembly has designated Nov 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Curtesy : TOI

First ever woman sentenced to death under blasphemy law in Pakistan

November 12, 2010

Christian woman sentenced to death in blasphemy case

LAHORE: A Christian mother of five has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, the first such conviction of a woman, sparking protests from rights groups on Thursday.

Asia Bibi, 45, was handed down the death sentence by a court in Nankana district in central Punjab on Monday.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy. Ms Asia’s case dates back to June 2009 when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields. But a group of Muslim women labourers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she should not touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and alleged that Ms Asia made derogatory remarks about the Prophet (peace be upon him). The cleric went to police, who opened an investigation.

Ms Asia was arrested in Ittanwalai village and prosecuted under Section 295-C of the PPC, which carries the death penalty.

Husband Ashiq Masih, 51, said he would appeal her death sentence.

Human rights activists want the controversial legislation repealed, saying it was exploited for personal enmity and encourages extremism.

“The blasphemy law is absolutely obscene and it needs to be repealed in totality,” Human Rights Watch spokesman Ali Dayan Hasan said. —AFP

Courtesy : Dawn.com & AFP.

Hardliner Islamists Warn Pakistan School Girls not to wear Western Clothes

May 16, 2010

 A student shows the threat letters sent by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan at Girls High School in Kali Shekhan, Quetta. — Photo by Online

Balochistan schools receive TTP’s threatening letters

Sun, 16 May, 2010 | Jumadi-us-Sani 01, 1431

QUETTA: A number of schools, including at least two girls’ schools, have closed down in Quetta after threatening letters were received by their managements.

Security was also beefed up in parts of the provincial capital and in Mastung.

Some of the letters threatened that if purdah was not observed in schools, then teachers and administrative heads will have to bear the consequences.

Similar letters threatening against wearing ‘western’ clothes were also sent to schools in Mastung.

The letters warned the school managements with the presence of informants among the students and the staffers and threatened severe consequences in case of non-compliance.

The letters, sent by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter, created a sense of fear and panic among the students and teachers.  

Courtesy : DawnNews and Agencies.

Pakistan Christian “Burnt”, Wife “Raped”, For Refusing Islam. The Christian Man died later.

March 22, 2010

PAK NEWS ALERT: Pakistan Christian “Burnt”, Wife “Raped”, For Refusing Islam

Saturday, March 20, 2010 (12:06 pm)

By BosNewsLife Asia Service reporting from Pakistan

RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Christian man was fighting for his life in Pakistan’s Punjab province Saturday, March 20, after Muslim leaders backed by police burnt him alive for refusing to convert to Islam, while his wife was raped by police officers, Christian and hospital sources familiar with the case told BosNewsLife.

Arshed Masih was burnt Friday, March 19, in front of a police station in the city of Rawalpindi near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, following apparent death threats from his Muslim employer Sheikh Mohammad Sultan, an influential businessman, and religious leaders, said the Rawalpindi Holy Family Hospital.

His wife, Martha Arshed, was allegedly raped by police officers. Their three children — ranging in age from 7 to 12–  were reportedly forced to witness the attacks against their parents.

“Both [Masih] and wife were rushed to the Holy Family Hospital and are under treatment,” the hospital said.

He was listed in serious condition with about 80 percent of his body burnt.

POLICE INVESTIGATION

Local police officials said they were “aware” of the attacks carried out by Muslim leaders and apparently at least some officers and added that an investigation was underway. No arrests were reported yet late Saturday, March 19.

Sheikh Mohammad Sultan could not immediately be reached for comment and it was not clear whether he had been in contact with police Saturday, March 20.

Before tensions emerged about their Christian faith, Masih worked as a driver and his wife as a maid for the Muslim businessman since 2005, Christians said.

The couple apparently lived with their children in the servant quarters of Sultan’s estate in Rawalpindi, a key trade and tourist destination. In January, religious leaders and Sultan allegedly asked Arshed to convert to Islam with his whole family.  After he refused, the group reportedly threatened him with “dire consequences”.

DEATH THREAT

Arshed offered to quit his job, but the businessman allegedly said he would “kill” him if he were to leave.

He apparently also told Christian mediators that he would never allow the Christian family to live somewhere else.

This week tensions rose after Sultan reported a theft of 500,000 Pakistani Rupees (5,952$), according to a document seen by BosNewsLife.

The Christian family members were not named as suspects in the so-called ‘First Information Report’  from police.

Sources familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, told BosNewsLife that the businessman had offered the couple to drop the case if they convert to Islam or “else that both would not see their children again.”

However, “Arshed refused to convert and stood firm in his faith. Arshed`s wife was raped by the police and he was burnt alive,” Friday, March 19, local Christians said, speaking on condition of anonimity.

The case comes at a time when church groups have complained about growing attacks against minority Christians by Muslim militants, often with the alleged support by local law enforcement officials and other authorities. (BosNewsLife Asia Service includes BosNewsLife correspondents often working in difficult circumstances. In some cases, including this report, their names are not mentioned due to security concerns. With editing by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).

Christian burned alive dies, Christian community calls for justice

A True Sing of Islamic Peace… Arshed Masih burnt alive, died later. Amen.

by Fareed Khan||AsianNews.it
Arshed Masih, a 38 year-old Pakistani Christian, died yesterday (22.03.10) evening at 7.45 from his very serious injuries. The family requests that an autopsy is performed before the funeral. Christian associations and human rights activists demonstrate outside the hospital. Catholic leaders: the federal and provincial government do not punish the guilty. Read here details……….

Courtesy : BosNewsLife‘s Stefan J. Bos, AsianNews.it & The Religion of Peace.

‘Acid Terrorism’ Against Women in Pakistan

December 14, 2009

Equality to Women!
Oh, Where are the Human Rights activists?

May we consider it as another Peace Mission of Islam?

This is really horrible. Faces of these women were mutilated by acid, and this is the work of bastards who call themselves men. This is such a strange way of solving problems (or revenge) in Pakistan.
After the jump, you can look at these poor women and learn why the acid was thrown into their faces.

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1.Irum Saeed, 30, poses for a photograph at her office at the Urdu University of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, July 24, 2008. Irum was burned on her face, back and shoulders twelve years ago when a boy whom she rejected for marriage threw acid on her in the middle of the street. She has undergone plastic surgery 25 times to try to recover from her scars.

2.Shameem Akhter, 18, poses for a photograph at her home in Jhang, Pakistan, Wednesday, July 10, 2008. Shameem was raped by three boys who then threw acid on her three years ago. Shameem has undergone plastic surgery 10 times to try to recover from her scars.

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3.Najaf Sultana, 16, poses for a photograph at her home in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday, July 9, 2008. At the age of five Najaf was burned by her father while she was sleeping, apparently because he didn’t want to have another girl in the family. As a result of the burning Najaf became blind and after being abandoned by both her parents she now lives with relatives. She has undergone plastic surgery around 15 times to try to recover from her scars.

4.Shehnaz Usman, 36, poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Shehnaz was burned with acid by a relative due to a familial dispute five years ago. Shehnaz has undergone plastic surgery 10 times to try to recover from her scars.


5.Shahnaz Bibi, 35, poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Ten years ago Shahnaz was burned with acid by a relative due to a familial dispute. She has never undergone plastic surgery.

6.Kanwal Kayum, 26, adjusts her veil as she poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Kanwal was burned with acid one year ago by a boy whom she rejected for marriage. She has never undergone plastic surgery.


7.Munira Asef, 23, poses for a photograph in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Munira was burned with acid five years ago by a boy whom she rejected for marriage. She has undergone plastic surgery 7 times to try to recover from her scars.

8.Memuna Khan, 21, poses for a photograph in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Dec. 19, 2008. Menuna was burned by a group of boys who threw acid on her to settle a dispute between their family and Menuna’s. She has undergone plastic surgery 21 times to try to recover from her scars.


9.Zainab Bibi, 17, adjusts her veil as she poses for a photograph in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. Zainab was burned on her face with acid thrown by a boy whom she rejected for marriage five years ago. She has undergone plastic surgery several times to try to recover from her scars.

10.Naila Farhat, 19, poses for a photograph in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. Naila was burned on her face with acid thrown by a boy whom she rejected for marriage five years ago. She has undergone plastic surgery several times to try to recover from her scars.
Courtesy : www.funzug.com

Sex Terror in Pakistan. HIV Terror invades Pakistan’s middle class society. Even Allah is helpless to save Mullah.

November 30, 2009

Home-based sex worker Shaheena, 38, speaks to an AFP journalist in Karachi.

Pakistan sex workers on AIDS frontline.

Surfaced Islamic Life cannot help them to restrict the internal debauchery. Even Allah cannot save them.

KARACHI: A prostitute born and brought up in Karachi’s Napier Road red-light district, Shumaila never heard about HIV and AIDS until recently. Today, she carries condoms but clients refuse to wear them.

‘None of us were aware about the danger of AIDS looming over us for years but now we all know and can avoid it,’ said the tall 29-year-old who lives in a Victorian-style building in the heart of the neighbourhood.

Shumaila’s awareness —rare among Pakistan sex workers —is thanks to the Gender and Reproductive Health Forum, a local charity that runs a UN-funded programme in Napier Road teaching prostitutes about the perils of HIV/AIDS.

‘So far we have provided hundreds of thousands of condoms to sex workers in the last two years, which have saved them from being infected with the lethal virus,’ said Mirza Aleem Baig, who runs the forum.

Karachi has up to 100,000 female sex workers, according to data gathered by Pakistan Society, a local welfare organisation.

‘This is 20 per cent of their overall population in Pakistan. Lahore comes next with 75,000 sex workers,’ Saleem Azam, head of the charity, told AFP.

Prostitution may be illegal but it has prospered in Pakistan, where an economic downturn and widening poverty have forced women and men onto the streets to meet the rising cost of living.

Shaheena, 38, is a home-based sex worker. She is a skilled paramedic but seldom finds a permanent job.

‘So I opted to enter this business on the side,’ she told AFP, veiling her face to hide her identity.

‘I have sibblings, cousins, nephews and nieces who don’t know about my second profession. So I don’t want to identify myself to embarass them.

‘But it’s a question of survival as none of my relatives support me with money. They are all too stretched themselves,’ she said.

Azam says more than 60 per cent of Pakistan’s prostitutes work from homes or ply the streets, while the elite serve wealthy clients from kothikhanas (houses or rooms) in plush neighbourhoods.

This year’s annual UN report on AIDS said while the epidemic in Asia appears to be stable overall, HIV prevalence is increasing in some parts of the region, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.

A survey published in the report said 60 per cent of female sex workers and 45 per cent of their male clients in Karachi and Lahore do not know that condoms can prevent transmission of HIV.

Of those that do, few protect themselves. ‘The number of our clients who agree to wear a condom is very small. Female condoms are not available, which can save us more effectively,’ said Nasreen, another prostitute in Napier Road.

‘I can’t carry condoms in my purse on the street as we’re vulnerable to the police and could be arrested if they find them,’ said Afshan, 29, who walks the city’s busy streets looking for clients.

The most recent survey conducted by Pakistan’s state-run National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) in 2006 said only 18 per cent of sex workers reported always using condoms.

The UN report estimates that around 96,000 people, or 0.1 per cent of the population, live with HIV in Pakistan. The government says only 5,000 people are infected.

NACP says the disease is spreading among high-risk groups, especially drug users, who mostly inject and use dirty needles, raising fears the virus could spread quickly from addicts to prostitutes.

In 2006, Pakistan said HIV/AIDS prevalence among female sex workers was around 0.02 percent, but independent bodies put it much higher. ‘It is at least 15 per cent, ‘said Azam.

‘They are totally at the mercy of their clients. Most of their clients refuse to wear condoms,’ he said.

‘In Pakistan, this business is illegal, thus there is no law to seriously tackle the issue and save precious lives. Yet a way-out is desperately needed on humanitarian grounds.’

Baig said he had identified an HIV-positive sex worker a few months ago and tried to help her with treatment and a new job but she left because her colleagues considered her a blot on their business.

‘Now, no one knows where she is and what she is doing,’ he said.

What is now our Islamic Sharia doing in Pakistan ?

Courtesy: AFP & DAWN.

Hindu Exodus from Pakistan::Conventional Torture upon Hindus by Pak Terrorists::Forceful Conversion of Hindus into Islam in Pakistan::Rape of Hindu Women by Talibans :: Dying Hindus in Pak.

October 1, 2009

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CHUGGING INTO INDIA: Border activists feel the Government can no longer afford to look the other way.

Fearing Taliban, Pak Hindus take Thar Express to India

Vimal Bhatia , TNN 10 September 2009, 02:15am ISTJAISALMER:

In the past four years, some 5,000 Hindus may have crossed over from Pakistan, never to return. It has not been easy abandoning their homes, sometimes even their families, but they say they had no choice: they had to flee the Taliban.

It started as a trickle in 2006, the year the Thar Express was flagged off. The weekly train starts from Karachi, enters India at Munabao, a border town in Barmer, and runs up to Jodhpur. In the first year, 392 Hindus crossed over. This grew to 880 in 2007. The next year, the number was 1,240, and this year, till August, over 1,000 have crossed over. They just keep extending their visas and hope to become Indian citizens.



Incidentally, these are official figures. Sources say there are many more who cross over and melt in the local milieu. And officials have a soft corner for these people, most of whom have harrowing stories to tell.

Ranaram, who used to live in the Rahimyar district of Pakistan’s Punjab, says he fell prey to the Taliban. His wife was kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted to Islam. His two daughters were also forcibly converted. Ranaram, too, had to accept Islam for fear of his life. He thought it best to flee with his two daughters; his wife was untraceable.

Dungaram, another migrant, says atrocities against Hindus in Pakistan have increased in the past two years after the ouster of Musharraf. “We won’t get permanent jobs unless we convert to Islam.”Hindu Singh Sodha, president of Seemant Lok Sangathan, a group working for the refugees in Barmer and Jaisalmer, says there’s unfortunately no proper refugee policy in India even though people from Pakistan reach here in large numbers.

He said in 2004-05, over 135 families were given Indian citizenship but the rest are still living illegally in the country and are often tortured by police because they don’t have proper citizenship certificates. “In December 2008, over 200 Hindus were converted to Islam in Mirpur Khas town of Pakistan. But there are several others who want to stick to their religion but there’s no safety for them in Pakistan.”

Immigration officer at Munabao railway station, Hetudan Charan, says the arrival of Hindu migrants had suddenly increased as over 15 to 16 families were reaching India every week. “None of them admit they are to settle here but seeing their baggage, we easily understand,’’ he said.

Ravi Kumar, who was Barmer collector till his transfer two days back, said the government in 2007 had given permanent citizenship to a few Pakistani immigrants.

Exodus of Hindus from Pakistan

Escape From Taliban: Pak Hindus flee to India

Swati Vashishtha / CNN-IBN / Sept 14, 2009. Source : http://ibnlive.in.com/news/escape-from-taliban-pak-hindus-flee-to-india/101346-3.html

Jaipur: Each time the Thar Express from Pakistan chugs into the Jodhpur railway station many like Ranaram get off – relieved and hoping to never go back. Ranaram managed to rescue his two daughters from being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and forced conversion at the hands of militant outfits, some as sinister as the Taliban.

“We don’t want to go back there. We want to stay here,” says he.

And Ranaram is not alone. In spite of Pakistan’s publicised offensive, the Taliban’s atrocities span the Swat valley as well as Punjab and Sindh, which are home to a large population of religius minorities. At least 1,000 such men and women have crossed over in the past year. Many of them are living in Jodhpur and the villages surrounding it. Their fear is palpable.

Pakistani immigrant, Prem Singh says, “We couldn’t have lived in those circumstances any longer. Our lives and our children were under threat so we have come here with our children.”

 *** Watch Video  : Hindu Exodus from Pakistan

certificates and a clear policy, these refugees are forced to live in poor conditions and become victims of police harassment in India.

President Seemant Lok Sangathan, Jodhpur, Hindu Singh Sodha says, “They have to get registered with valid documents and have to apply for the extension of their visas.”

The border activists feel the Government can no longer afford to look the other way, but until the Government takes up the issue, the problem will only intensify.

The Beauty and The Beasts :: Paki Gals n Talibans

August 20, 2009

Now, Taliban send threats to Mansehra beauty parlours.

Earlier they threatened with acid bulbs.

aks_rooz_7_6_3 radical-extemist-porn images11

The Real ……….Protests            The Bare

 

August 20th, 2009 – 3:18 pm ICT by ANI Source : www.thaindia.com

Mansehra (NWFP, Pakistan), Aug.17 (ANI): Militants, purportedly affiliated to the Taliban, have sent threatening letters to two beauty parlours here, asking them to close their businesses or face the consequences.

Official sources were quoted by The News, as saying that the letters were sent to the Saba and Fair beauty parlours in the city.

The beauty parlours have been asked to wind up their businesses by August 18 (Tuesday), or face attacks.

Following the threat, the sources said, both the parlours were closed.

Meanwhile, another beautician said that she was seriously thinking to wind up her business as the owner of the building has asked her to vacate his shop. (ANI)

Pak Taliban warn women to wear hijab, else face acid burns

Lahore, July 31 (ANI): The Pakistan unit of the Taliban the Tehreek-e-Islami  Pakistan (TIP) has reportedly threatened the owners of CDs shops, Internet cafes and cable service providers to close down their activities, and warned the women to wear hijab to ensure safety, else their face would be disfigured by acid.

The Taliban gave a 15-day notice to several un-Islamic businesses like video parlours, CD shops and beauty parlours in Kot Addu to shut down or face dire consequences, reported the Daily Times.

The computer typed letter had Baitullah Mehsuds photograph on it along with two gunmen, and there were also Quranic verses about Jihad around the picture, said Kot Addu Police Station House Officer (SHO) Irfan Khosa.

The message said that the Western and the Indian media were damaging the character of youths and madrassa students, the official said, and added that the business of music and movies was Haram.

Muzaffargarh District Police Officer (DPO) Shahzad Sultan said that the police had increased the security though it could not independently confirm the groups activities.

According to the paper, the second paragraph said that within five days of the receipt of the letter, every woman not wearing Hijab would be disfigured with acid, while the following third paragraph said that very soon we would cleanse earth from the traitors of Allah.

Name of Khalid Mehsud, purported local Taliban leader, was printed at the end, added the paper. (ANI)

Alertpak says, The Talibans are extravagant for enjoying their lives on narcotics, belly dancers, pornography, fake currencies,   gadgetts, weapons, Arab street hookers  and innumerous gals they want. Obviously the gals should be beautiful and polished. If they do not go to the beauty parlour and don’t have a course of pleasure pack, how they are able to intercourse with several Talibans at a time with an attractive look ? Please don’t close these beauty purlours for Allah’s Sake as the Hooriees of the Heaven sometime take tips from the Beautiful Pakistani and Indian Muslim Girls for the enrichment of the earlier to serve  better in Heaven for the pleasure of you Talibani Jihadi Martyrs. Ouuoofffssss !!!!!!!!!

pakistan-girls in bikini untitledpak2

Hey Talibans…….. Don’t  you  like  us ?

Women Rights violated by Terrorists in Pak. Pakistani Women : Persecuted not paranoid.

May 7, 2009

Fleeing Swatis describe horrific scenes, Pakistani women are persecuted, not are they paranoid of anything. They want Freedom also.

swaty_80x80 <1swat12 <2

tal6swfl <4pakpro1<5

1>Face of a Persecuted Pakistani Women

2>A displaced family from Swat valley arrives at a make shift camp in Swabi.—AFP

3>Like flogging, hanging to death of  muslim women in Pakistan is a good play of Talibans.

4> Public flogging upon female in Swat.

5> Anti Taliban Protest of Women Organisations in Pakistan. 

Wednesday, 06 May, 2009 | 06:51 PM PST |

PESHAWAR: Shop owner Saeed Khan has already buried one child killed in fighting between the Taliban and government forces in northwest Pakistan. He cannot bear to lose another, AFP reports.

So the 50-year-old bundled his wife, son and daughter onto a bus in the Taliban-infested town of Mingora in the Swat valley and hurried to the city of Peshawar, hoping for a future free from further bloodshed.

‘I lost my son, who was a police officer in Swat, in a suicide attack in Mingora early this year. I buried him in front of my house,’ Khan told AFP, tears rolling down his cheeks.

‘I don’t want to dig graves for my daughter and son in Mingora. That is why I left the area… His death broke me. Tell me where should I go and from whom should I seek justice?’

Local officials say more than 40,000 men, women and children have packed up and fled Mingora since Tuesday, fearing that Pakistan’s military could unleash a fresh ground and air assault against Taliban fighters.

The bedraggled refugees, some leading goats and cattle through the streets, are seeking safety for their loved ones, as the Taliban claimed to control 90 per cent of the former ski resort and tourist getaway, once favoured by Westerners.

‘I am immediately leaving the city with my wife, mother and four kids,’ said taxi driver Ali Rehman, 46.

‘I don’t really know my destination and destiny. My family and I need protection.’

At the bus stop in Peshawar — the capital of the North West Frontier Province — exhausted and anxious people told stories of horror as they poured out of vehicles carrying old bags, blankets and bundles of clothes.

Zarina Begum, 40, pleaded for help as she staggered off a bus.

‘A mortar hit my house and as a result, I lost one of my eyes. Please take me to hospital, I want medical treatment,’ Zarina begged.

‘They (Taliban) killed my husband, they slit his throat after accusing him of spying… I escaped Swat because I don’t want my son to be killed under the same circumstances. I don’t want to receive his decapitated body.’

The government had hoped that a peace deal agree in February would placate hardliners trying to impose a repressive brand of Islam, but instead the deal appears to be in tatters.

Clashes have flared in recent days throughout Swat, where wealthy Pakistanis and foreigners used to enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery from plush hilltop hideaways, or cruise down the ski slopes.

Now, gunfire rings out in Mingora, where armed Taliban patrol the streets.

‘I’m really scared of going to Swat. Whenever I see Taliban, they look like vampires,’ said 25-year-old shop keeper Salman Mujtaba, who lost family members in a suicide attack near Mingora.

‘I will never ever go back to Swat. It has lost its beauty.’

Courtesy: The Dawn, Pakistan.

Karachi’s women: Persecuted or paranoid?

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Women travel on a public bus in Karachi.—Reuters/FileBy Huma Yusuf
Monday, 04 May, 2009 | 07:05 PM PST |[http://www.dawn.com]

KARACHI: Farah, a 29-year-old who manages a courier service on Karachi’s Korangi Road, keeps herself covered in a white chador while driving through the city these days. ‘I’m not taking any chances if the Taliban are here,’ she says, covering up her usual attire of jeans and a short top.

In recent weeks, women in Karachi have become increasingly wary of the threat posed by militants from the northern areas who have allegedly infiltrated the port city. Reports that Taliban commanders have relocated to Karachi for fear of drone attacks in Quetta have coincided with a spate of incidents of female harassment. Although panic levels are high, women who have been targeted are reluctant to go public with their experiences. As a result, the city is rife with rumours, and people like Farah are living in fear, but no official action to investigate who is threatening women is being taken.

State of fear

In the past few weeks, upper- and middle-class women have been approached by men, bearded and otherwise, and warned not to leave the house without covering themselves from head to toe. In some cases, the harassers have been armed. In others, they have threatened women with physical attacks in the future if they do not change their ways. Another form of harassment entails the families of young women receiving letters on behalf of the Taliban. In the letters, fathers are told that they must reign in their daughters who are accused of roaming freely and wearing western outfits. Some businessmen have even been asked to make ‘donations’ to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in order to secure their daughters’ safety.

Despite the widespread panic that news of these threats has provoked, few women are willing to go on the record or register an official complaint. As a result, the extent of the threat posed to Karachi’s young women remains unclear.

For example, a fashion designer who initially claimed in public that her clients had received letters critiquing their mode of dress and ‘warning them to cover up, or else,’ refused to confirm details when speaking to the press. Similarly, a woman who was reportedly told by her fruit seller not to return to his stall if she wasn’t ‘properly attired’ refused to discuss the incident with this correspondent.

This is not to say that women have not been targeted at all. Noor, a 19-year-old

university student who asked that her last name be withheld for security reasons, confirms that she received a threat. ‘My friends and I were in a shop on Zamzama Boulevard when a bearded man entered. He told us to have sharam and only leave the house when covered from head to toe,’ she says.

Similarly, Wilma, an employee at a five-star hotel in the centre of the city, says she was shopping with some friends on Tariq Road when a man approached one of them and threatened to throw acid at her if she didn’t dress properly in the future. ‘Girls wearing capri pants are especially being targeted,’ she says.

Moreover, women’s rights activist Attiya Dawood says that she was walking with her daughters in Hilal Park, a walled-off park in Defence, when some young men began throwing eggs at them and yelling at women to go home and stay away from the park. ‘I can’t confirm who those men were,’ says Dawood, ‘but my brain went straight to the reports that Taliban militants or their sympathisers are trying to scare women out of public spaces.’

Unmasking the threat

Dawood is correct to admit that her thoughts went straight to the Taliban even though she cannot identify the men who threw eggs at her. The fact is, no clear proof is available to indicate who may be victimising Karachi’s women.

City government officials argue that the threats are part of the ‘Talibanisation’ of Karachi. ‘Ordinary people, mostly from the Pashto-speaking community, feel empowered by recent successes [such as the passage of the Nizam-i-Adl Regulation] in the northern areas and feel they have a license to approach Karachi’s public,’ says Naib Nazim Nasrin Jalil.

But there are many who are sceptical, pointing out that there is no clear indication that men who have approached women 

are affiliated with or sympathetic to Taliban militants. Irfan Bahadur, the district superintendent of Sohrab Goth, says that ‘militant-like’ activity has not been detected in the locality that many believe is housing Taliban foot soldiers who have come to Karachi seeking shelter. ‘Many rumours have been spread to cause fear and it’s difficult to keep track of what’s true and what’s not,’ he says.

Specifically with regard to the issue of women being targeted, Bahadur points out that gossip seems to be outnumbering the facts. Recently, it was rumoured that pamphlets had been distributed around Sohrab Goth, urging women to stay at home and keep covered. ‘I have not seen such a pamphlet,’ says Bahadur, ‘and no one has taken the effort to show it to me.’ Indeed, members of various women’s rights groups confirm that they have not seen the flier.

Off the record

Owing to women’s reluctance to make official complaints or go on-the-record with their experience in the media, the city government and law-enforcing agencies have no basis on which to investigate the matter further. The identity of the perpetrators remains shrouded in mystery, and too many women are fearing the worst – an urban reign of the Taliban.

To address this problem and help quantify the extent of female harassment in Karachi, women’s rights groups are launching campaigns against what they describe as the ‘tribalisation’ of Pakistani cities. ‘We are trying to make women realize that they are victims of a criminal act and that they must speak up and take legal action if approached,’ explains Dr Kausar Saeed Khan of the Karachi-based Women’s Action Forum (WAF).

Meanwhile, Shama Askari, a member of Tehrik-e-Niswan, is organising a group to petition the Sindh governor to set up a helpline where women can report cases in which they are threatened on account of their behaviour or attire. While such an initiative would be welcome, it will not prove effective until Karachi’s women are willing to speak out against the forces that might be trying to oppress them.

Courtesy: The Dawn, Pakistan.