TIMERGARA, March 8: In spite of the fact that the International Women’s Day will be observed across the globe on Saturday with traditional pledges for the protection of women rights, the women folk in Lower Dir continue to face problems affecting their lives and status in society.
Women in Lower Dir have been barred from exercising their political, social and economic rights. In the recent general elections women in the district were deprived of their right to vote. Honour killings as well as cases related to “Swara” have been reported in the district.
According to reports collected from different police stations and published in various national newspapers 16 women and nine men were killed in honour related crimes last year.
According to Khall police, one Muhtaj son of Mian Gul killed Awal Zeb, 23, in Toormang Dara when he was on his way to his home in June last year. Later, Muhtaj went to his home and killed his sister-in-law on the suspicion that she had illicit relations with Awal Zeb.
Similarly on February 3, a resident of Haya Serai Muhammad Jan killed his sister-in-law and a man Gul Zar son of Haider on the suspicion of having illicit relations. On February 24, a girl and a boy Ihsanullah were murdered over allegedly having illicit relations in Dog Dara.
In June, a couple was killed in Gujranwala, Punjab. Sources said that Uzma 18 had married a boy Shabir in her neighbourhood on her own free will against the permission of her parents. The couple had fled to Karachi and then shifted to Gujranwala where they were traced and killed.
Similarly, another couple was killed in Ouch, Lower Dir on November 11, sources said, adding that the girl Khaista Begum and the boy Islam Zeb had married on their own violating the family’s decision. People said that the elders of the girl’s family ‘deceived’ the couple and invited them to their home but when they reached they were allegedly killed by the girl’s relatives.
On March 27, a man Amir Hassan killed his wife Shamim Akhtar in village Bakandai in the jurisdiction of Ouch polling station. The man suspected his wife of having illicit relation with someone. Similarly, a man Rehmat Zeb, allegedly opened fire on his wife Zeenat Bibi, while she was offering prayers, in Khadag Zai village on March 26.
Later on the accused also killed his brother Bahadar Zeb, on the pretext that his wife and his brother had illicit relations.
On June 1, a women Naheed Bibi and a man Bakht Shah Zeb were allegedly killed by Naheed’s in laws in Osorai village. On July 9, a man shot his wife Zahira, an infant baby and two other women relatives dead, in Rabbat Dara due to unknown reasons, police and residents told this scribe.
In another incident on August 28, police intervened to save a three-year-old girl in Chakdara from becoming victim of the inhuman custom of Swara by taking an undertaking from her father that he would not hand her over to his rivals.
The girl had to be handed over on August 31, but police interference saved the girl’s life. Later on they arrested sixteen people including a prominent religious leader Maulana Muhammad Rahim alias Darbar Maulana, along with jirga members for their decision to give away the girl in Swara.
On August 30, a man Nadar Khan allegedly shot his wife Sumera and younger brother Famir dead in Timergara on suspicion of having illicit relations, sources said, adding that the accused first stabbed them and then shot them dead. On September 6, a man Muhammad Khan entered a woman Iqbal Bibi’s house in Ouch and killed her while a child was injured in the incident, police said.
On October 6, a man Gul Khan 23 was shot dead in Timergara, Malakand by relatives of a woman Hameeda who later on shot her dead. They suspected the deceased of having illicit relations. On September 22, a retired army solider Bakht Rahman allegedly killed his wife Bakht Mina, residents said; adding that later on the accused pretended that she was killed by some attackers from outside the home when she was asleep.
Witnesses said Bakht Mina was a modest and innocent woman. On November 21, a man Liaq Zada shot his wife Risalat Bibi dead in Darmal Bala village, informed sources told this reporter.
The women in Dir had never been allowed to take part in political activities. They had never been deprived of their right to vote or contest election. Though in local government elections 2001 and 2005 women were elected to union, tehsil and district councils, yet they had been discouraged to attend councils’ meetings. Women rights activists working in Dir have demanded of the present government and the international donor agencies to focus on boosting female education in the area.