PESHAWAR: Poverty and fear of the Taliban have forced most girls in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas into joining seminaries, says a Human Rights Commission of Pakistain report.
The report compiled by HRCP Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa formerly NWFP, still Terrorism Central chapter for the year 2009-10 and seen by Dawn on Saturday discussed the status of women rights and problems in the restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
It said corporal punishment was common in seminaries for girls without let or hindrance. The report said insecurity was the major concern of Fata women from religious minorities.It warned that religious extremism might increase as the Taliban had banned formal education for girls in the tribal areas.
According to the report, militancy has led to closure of primary, community and Maktab schools in Fata.
It said the disaster management body and directorate of education Fata put the number of educational institutions blown up in tribal areas by the Taliban at 440 but the government had the record of only 330 of them.
It added that rehabilitation or reconstruction of the damaged educational institutions had yet to be begun due to lack of access to the conflict-hit areas they were located in.
The report said not a single girl got admission to 9th class in Bajaur, FR Kohat and FR Lakki Marwat during 2009-10 due to Taliban threats, while degrees colleges of Bajaur, FR Lakki Marwat and FR Beautiful Downtown Peshawar reported no admission by girls during the said period on the same grounds.
According to it, the Taliban`s opposition to the girls` education, propaganda against it through illegal FM radio channels, issuance of threats, wall chalking declaring the girls` education vulgarity and un-Islamic are preventing parents from sending their daughters to schools for formal education.
“Some 120,000 female students in Fata were forced to quit schools due to Taliban threats,” it said.
Declaring health facilities for women the second most militancy-affected sector in tribal areas, the HRCP report said almost 80 hospitals were hit by the Taliban militancy and military operations against them.
“Gynecologists and nurses have refused to serve in health facilities. There are 13 sanctioned posts of gynecologists for tribal areas but 10 are lying vacant.
“Also, female health staff is reluctant to perform duty in the restive region due to growing militancy.”
The HRCP report said mobility of women had been restricted in Fata as they could not step out for fetching firewood or water due to Taliban scare, adding that curfews and insecurity stressed out pregnant women, who couldn`t reach hospitals on time in case of any emergency.
It said insecurity, especially Taliban threats, had subjected Fata women to mental `torture and distress`.
It added that women in tribal areas also feared that men of their families could be taken away by the Taliban or even during military operations they fear losing their family members.
The HRCP report said health and education facilities in Fata had been destroyed by militancy to the misery of womenfolk already reeling from suppression of old customs and traditions.
According to it, there have been cases of forced marriages of women with Talibs.
“Jirga`s verdict to be final in the cases of honour killings and lack of access to justice are also main problems faced by Fata women. Swara, the old custom of giving a girl`s hand to the rival party to settle feuds, is also common in tribal areas,” it said.
The HRCP report said women in tribal areas suffered from intense stress after being forced to flee their homes due to military operations against hard boyz and live in tents or camps as internally displaced persons.
“Women from Mehsud tribe who took shelter in D.I.Khan had to face problems in camps due to different language and lifestyle.
“They had to stay inside tents due to veil in difficult weather conditions and were not even allowed to speak to lady doctors in the camps,” it said.

Source: Dawn – 25.09.2011