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Women’s complaint centre shut down for unpaid bills

By: Sarfaraz Memon

SUKKUR: The government office of the women’s complaint cell was sealed by its landlord because it had failed to pay rent and utility bills for a year. The office dealt with five districts, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Shikarpur and Naushahro Feroze.

The staff consisted of four people — Safia Baloch, who was in charge, Raheela Kamangar, her assistant, and two peons. According to Baloch, only the peons were paid regularly, while she and Raheela worked for free. The landline had been cut long time ago, and she was using her cell phone to keep in touch.

In 2009, the provincial women development ministry set up women complaint centres in Hyderabad, Larkana, Sukkur, and Karachi. The offices in other cities are running with funds from the provincial government.

Since it opened, the centre in Sukkur did not receive any funds from the Sindh government, except salaries for the peons and the rent. But even that was stopped a year ago, said Baloch. “I work from home now, for the time being.” She said that she tried to contact the provincial director of women development but could not reach her.

The centre has solved 84 cases, including karo kari, domestic violence and marital disputes since it began working. Baloch referred to the case of a 70-year-old Nihalan from Ghotki. She had been declared kari by her own son to get hold of the property. The officials rescued her and now Nihalan lives in a Darul Aman.

According to Baloch, most of the karo kari cases take place because of property, and also to equal personal scores. A man kills another, and then the wife, mother or a sister, to make it look like an honour killing. Women are beaten or killed for even as little as getting the tea or food late. Married women cannot leave their husbands because their own families do not accept them. So they continue to live in oppression.

Source: The Express Tribune