UN’s report on Pakistan’s dispirited rural women

Instead of just raising voices for women  empowerment, the agencies should also address men’s opposition to feminist ideas

Soomri Kolhi, a 23 years old mother of seven children lives in a muddy hut near Nagarparkar, the most backward and remotest region of Sindh province. Her husband Naru Kolhi, who is 20 years older than her, is a labourer. It’s upon him whether he wants to go to the city for work or not — because he is a man.

If someday he works and earns some money, he utilises it on alcohol. It appears as if he does not know he has to take care of seven children and a deprived wife. He drinks regularly and beats her wife whenever she asks for their children. This is how Soomri has spent her last seven years.

She begged an NGO for warm clothes last winter. Otherwise, her family would have been left at the mercy of the cruel, cold weather. Her four daughters are fighting for their lives due to inadequate healthcare facilities.

For the provision of meals for her children, she sometimes earns some money by collecting firewood from the jungles or provides drinking water in nearby villages by carrying water pitcher on the head for several kilometres.

When I asked her ‘Why don’t you take your daughters to Mithhi or nearby government hospital for a checkup,’ she replied:“It will be better for my daughters to die than living in such unsympathetic circumstances where nothing is pro-women. The excruciating dark days which I have seen so far are agonising and being a mother of four girls I cannot allow my daughters to spend such an inequitable life.” I couldn’t stop myself from weeping as she completed her answer.

Thousands of justifications would never turn the truth into a lie because there isn’t any significant improvement in the lives of rural women across Pakistan.

The UN’s report hasn’t brought anything new to us; in fact, it tells us how apathetically/carelessly we deal with our women. The low status of Pakistani women has been exposed since the country came into being. There seems no impasse to this disappointing permanence.

Life of a woman in rural parts of the country is a peril, as on one end she is deprived of necessities, while on other, the apathy of local men and inequitable social behaviours have forced the rural women of Pakistan to dwell a vale of tears.

It’s becoming a Gordian knot for the agencies working with the objectives to safeguard rights of women and empower them owing to their ineffective approach to cope with the situation. Instead of voicing for the women empowerment, they should be more realistic to reacclimatise the callous stance of local men towards a pro-women attitude.

Pakistan must open its eyes to the miserable situation of its rural women. It is the need of the hour to help them in achieving economic independence so that they can live comfortable lives

In rural Sindh, men think that a woman is their slave and they can do whatever they want. The women are vulnerable and voiceless with no alternates except for being a bondage slave and keep bearing all sorts of troubles under the supremacy of their so-called husbands. When a man marries a woman in the rural areas of Sindh, it doesn’t mean that he gets a wife. Instead, it means he gets a permanent as well as free of cost labourer who will keep serving him till he or that women dies. How sick is our mentality?

Hardly five percent of rural women in Sindh are educated, and this chart drops as one goes with the intention to monitor the women education ratio to the most remote villages and localities of Thar and coastal belt of Sindh. Educating women in this part of the world is considered as a sin.

There are hundreds of reports and surveys which identify how the rural women are treated in Pakistan. But the government’s negligence over the issue is making the rural women weak day by day.

Figures revealed by the UN officials in their recent report regarding health, education and employment of women in Pakistan are bitter truths, and the government should never underestimate the report. This situation must be an eye-opener for everyone across Pakistan, and it has become a need of the hour to timely lend a hand for bringing every possible comfort to the lives of rural women so that they also can prosper till the cows come home.

The writer is a freelancer based from Badin and can be reached at abbaskhaskheli110@gmail.com

Published in Daily Times, March 6th 2018.