THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Where women seek justice

PAKISTAN: A narrow path winds through Kashmir’s Valley of Pearls towards 13 tin-roofed shops hidden in a rickety row, a women-only market that doubles as a space for those seeking help against the violence of Pakistan's patriarchy.

culturereligionsexviolencepolitics
By AFP

Sunday 29 January 2017, 01:00PM


The market began simply as a place run by women for women where they could buy and sell sewing supplies, visit clothing boutiques or train as beauticians. Photo AFP

The market began simply as a place run by women for women where they could buy and sell sewing supplies, visit clothing boutiques or train as beauticians. Photo AFP

The market, in a small village outside the main city of Rawalakot in a conservative corner of Pakistani-held Kashmir, began simply as a place run by women for women.

There they could buy and sell sewing supplies, visit clothing boutiques or train as beauticians – a welcome outlet for many struggling with the restraints on women in the deeply traditional Muslim area.

Social worker Nusrat Yousuf, who works with victims of domestic violence through the non-governmental organisation (NGO) she heads, helped persuade a generous landlord to provide the land to set up the market in 2011.

Women in the area, she says, are forbidden by their families to work in the main markets in the area’s towns and cities.

“They become frustrated when they can’t get jobs and spend their lives at home,” the 48-year-old widow said.

The market, from which men were at first banned, provided a way around conservative beliefs, making women “economically strong”.

Yousuf describes it as a place “where they can visit and freely discuss all their issues – such as childbirth, menstruation, cooking, and domestic issues, and we find solutions”.

That increasingly includes how to help divorced women and victims of domestic violence lodge complaints with police and fight their cases in the courts.

Women have battled for their rights for decades in Pakistan. Hundreds are murdered each year – usually by male relatives – in so-called “honour killings” and disfiguring acid attacks are still common.

Rights groups and politicians have for years called for tougher laws to tackle perpetrators of violence against women in Pakistan.

“Police were not arresting an influential man who cut off the nose of his wife three months ago,” she says, describing just one of the cases she has handled from her office in the market.

“She approached us, and our NGO staged a protest against police,” Yousuf explains, adding that she then met with police officials and lodged a complaint.

Futsal League 2019

“Now the culprit is in police custody. We have hired a female lawyer to fight the case.” she says.

Razia Bibi, a 35-year-old mother of two whose husband divorced her seven months ago, described how Yousuf is helping her navigate the courts to seek alimony from her children’s father.

“I am hopeful that the verdict will be in my favour,” she says.

Yousuf says her NGO, the Pearl Rural Support Programme, which brings together women’s organisations in seven local villages, is also lobbying the government for a separate desk for women at every police station, where they can speak to a female officer “more comfortably”.

Yousuf says that, originally, men were banned from entering the market. Now they can enter – but only in the company of a woman.

The market has made life easier, says customer Ayesha Bibi. “We had to travel to the main markets for such things in the past, and we needed the company of a male family member to go there,” she explains.

It is also providing economic opportunity for those such as computer graduate Sara Rasheed, whose family refused her permission to work in any area dominated by men.

She convinced them to allow her to open a beauty parlour and a garment shop in the market, she says. “I am earning a good income and saving lots of money for my future and family,” she adds proudly.

Khurshid Begum, a 42-year-old widow and mother of four, opened a tailor’s shop and teaches sewing to young girls there.

“My business has flourished... My income has increased,” she says.

“We are trying to make more and more women skilful in future,” Yousuf says. “I am very happy that I am achieving my goal.”

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Aircraft maintenance worker, 22, dies after motorbike hits parked bus

What is the minimum distance a car, truck, bus is allowed to park before/after a curve?...(Read More)


Family matters: The mother-son team behind a new cafe in Chalong

It might be helpful if you told us where this cafe is as I'd like to try it....(Read More)


Aircraft maintenance worker, 22, dies after motorbike hits parked bus

Why are such "small" vehicles, a bus, allowed to park, on the road, no wonder people drive...(Read More)


Disaster officials issue fire warning as small wildfires break out

Wonder how much water is still available on Phuket island for fire fighting. Not mentioning the nee...(Read More)


Disaster officials issue fire warning as small wildfires break out

Now, from Chalong, at 16:15 hrs clearly to see on the hill, right below Big Buddha, rubbish burning,...(Read More)


Aircraft maintenance worker, 22, dies after motorbike hits parked bus

... Fearful, the driver of the parked bus fled the scene...leaving a bag with all his identifying ma...(Read More)


Election Commission issues defamation warning

Imagine if the developed world had such laws. This does raise the question as to how to campaign eff...(Read More)


Power outage in Thalang

And nothing change to country 4.0 doings. Continue the old way of keeping cables at poles, instead u...(Read More)


Phuket health officials, police unite to enforce Makha Bucha alcohol ban

Why not have all non-'budhists' wear arm-bands with a distinguishing logo? They could be giv...(Read More)


Taxi blames oil spill for wipeout

Unless one wants to live in a Police state, where everything and everyone is under surveillance, the...(Read More)