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Tribal women bear the brunt of military operation in North Waziristan

ISLAMABAD: The ongoing military operation in North Waziristan has affected the tribal women the most.

According to many personal accounts presented at a seminar here on Tuesday, cultural barriers and the lack of documents were some of the hurdles in providing assistance to most of the women displaced by the operation.

“I saw a woman crying for help for her injured husband who got his ribcage broken while collecting ration. But the so-called social and cultural taboos did not allow her to move her husband to a nearby hospital,” said Maryam Bibi, a social worker while sharing her experience of working at an internally displaced persons camp.

Hundreds of women remain unregistered and hence ineligible for aid at relief camps

The seminar was organised by Women Action Forum on the premises of the National Commission on the Status of Women to highlight the issues pertaining women and children.

Also read: KP govt, WHO get together for displaced women’s health

Maryam Bibi said during her visits to the IDP camps she noticed that the second wife was not allowed to get herself registered for aid because she did not have documents to show her the member of a particular family.

“In Fata, usually men have two or three wives, but they do not get their second and third wife documented.”

In the IDP camps, there were hundreds of such women who were unable to get themselves registered for aid, she said.

Maryam said cultural restrictions did not allow women to move freely in camps or even at their native land in Fata.

“In their native land, Jirga, Hujra and Masjid decide their fate,” she said.

The participants of the seminar were of the view that the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan and floods in various parts of the country had badly affected women and there was an urgent need to mitigate their sufferings.

Social worker Gulalai Ismail said disaster snatched identities of the people, leaving them with only one identity called “IDPs”.

“It is extremely important to understand the issues of the displaced people, especially of women. The government should listen to their woes,” she said.

Right activists Arifa Mazhar, Nasreen Azhar, Naseer Memon and others also shed lights on the sufferings of the IDPs who left their homes due to the military operation and floods. Mr Memon briefed the participants on the problems being confronted by the flood survivors.

In her concluding remarks, Dr Maimoona Rauf Khan of Women Action Forum urged the government to empower women, particularly those who were living in the camps.

“All stakeholders have to play their role in protecting and promoting the rights of women by countering all forms of oppression,” she said.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2014