My sheroes from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

My sheroes from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Friday, 05 July 2013 00:00
Written by The Spokesman

Published in Opinion

ByDr.Rakhshinda Perveen
Today I am going to introduce two girls from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who have become my heroes since 2012. Those of you who are conversant with them should take my introduction as reintroduction. They did get attention in the press but for a very short period. Neither their magnitude of miseries nor the degree of their resilience was duly acknowledged. Their real strengths were never put in the right perspective. They never caught the attention of the international community and they are not in the limelight for reasons, best known to the movers and shakers in the industry of media, politics, child rights & women rights based non profits and donors including UN agencies. I am sharing their stories with an integration of empathy and facts.
My first shero is ‘Wajeeha’. She is living with courage and every day she demonstrates self esteem. She is now 11 years old. She lives in one of the most conservative areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that is known as Tangea, in district Charsaddah and works’ though International laws do not allow her to work. I read about her in esteemed English daily as the country’s first female rickshaw driver implying that she drives a vehicle with six persons aboard. She has to remain culturally correct as well so she drives while wrapping herself in a chaddar/shawl. Is not it ironical that she was showcased as the youngest Pakistani and probably only rickshaw driver (as if she is doing this as a show to be acknowledged by the Guinness book of world record?). Her father a Frontier Core veteran lost his both legs while fighting against militants in Swat and who somehow decided to buy a 3-wheeler rickshaw instead of contacting any foreign and or local media to fight with his new circumstances. She was 9 years old then and she decided on her own to support her father and her family.
She goes to school as well and like world renowned Ms.Malala Yosufzai (age 16 years), our girl from Swat, a Nobel peace prize nominee- who has made us all anti Taliban Pakistanis proud, this little wizard too is a lover of education. Her name is ‘Wajeeha’ literally meaning beautiful. Indeed you are a beautiful person within and without. I hope and pray for a beautiful life for you in future.
Following are some verses by renowned feminist Pakistani poet Ms.Kishwar Naheed from her poem ‘we sinful women’. “It is we sinful women who are not awed by the grandeur of those who wear gowns, who don’t sell our bodies, who don’t bow our heads, who don’t fold our hands together.”
Meet Ms.Uzma Ayub from Krak of Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Karak is said to be the single district in Pakistan which is inhabited by only one tribe of Pashtun, the Khattak. Karak is one of the most literate districts in the province and the Khattaks are considered most literate and most liberal among Pashtuns. I am refraining from drawing any iota of attention towards PTI and its chief Minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as my story is about Uzma.
At the tender age of 15, she was abducted and gang- raped allegedly by policemen. She got pregnant and I learnt through e-activism that “she wants to retain the child, pro-life advocates won and instead of observing a confidential therapeutic abortion, all tycoons of private TV Channels adopted an unwritten policy of turning their cameras to the pregnant victim. A strong imagination is needed to visualise the journey of this girl and her poor family in the given contexts of conservatism, absence of rule of law and culture of victim-bashing. Despite threats she managed to seek legal aid. But it had cost her 24 years old brother got killed in outside premises of the court in 2011 on 10 December (ironically the international human rights day). She gave birth to a girl in 2012 and that time she became camera delight and her nightmare was then newsworthy. Finally she failed to seek justice from the court because the ‘DNA” did not match with the alleged party and it is obvious that Justice is blind and works through evidence. According to a published report by Equality Now, ‘The court found that the DNA test results of Uzma’s baby did not match the men implicated in the gang-rape. In addition, it ordered Uzma to undergo multiple lie detector tests and found the results inconclusive.”
This however is not relevant how evidence is provided, lost and or manipulated. My several queries directed at many concerned human rights activists, ending violence against women and girls forums remain unanswered or the responses were unsatisfactory (at least my limited pragmatism could not accept those answers). Following initial ceremonial gestures from the civil society and public sector no attention is being paid to this courageous but unfortunate girl. This girl is my shero because she is a super “failure.” Mukhtaran Mai of Jatoi, Southern Punjab, Pakistan and the internationally recognized victim turned survivor of gang rape also could not seek justice from the court but at least she made the world wept for her and sought material and monetary support. But my sheroe is……!
My civilian salutes to both of you .You are among the very few genuinely bravest kid girls, I happened to know. Even though, to me courage is something that is within and it does not need support of media, facebook likes, NGOS’ support, street activism and ceremonial gestures etc.etc. I still get puzzled and pessimistic on fathoming your suffering.
I have taken a risk of being misjudged by certain liberals by quoting Ms.Malala Yousufzai and Ms. Mukhtaran Mai, but I have done it with the hope to command the attention of those who matter so that my sheroes may get some relief if not compensation, foreign Visas, etc. though I understand that the probability of earning personal attacks is much higher than the former. However, I would not hide my failure to understand the difference in the fate of victims? I do not want to involve God in such matters but does this mean that one has to be “lucky” even in mishaps and tragedies especially if someone is from a society that is characterized by silence on violence and selective activism and a State that has yet to assign priorities to such issues and ensure that adequate laws, effective systems and incessant rule o law are in place?

The wirter is a gender expert
and activist

Leave a Reply