climate changeHuman Rights

Listen to the vulnerable community of Pakistan

saddia Mazhar

“There have been times I have been scared. There have been times that I have cried. But does that mean you give up in the face of brute force? No, never!”

Late lawyer and Human Rights Activist Asma Jahangir

(Source: BBC interview in 2010)

We suddenly heard some shouting, we tried to find out the direction of that voice and finally a raising hand with shouting voice grab our attention. We reached them. A women who was pregnant but was stuck in flood , waited for help but lost her life with her new born . rescue 1122 team member told this story while he was on rescue mission in south Punjab.

We were not able to carry the bodies of them but rescued her two daughters and husband. They were not willing to leave their mother and unfortunately, father got a sudden heart attack in boat and daughters are left alone. He was in tears while telling this incident.

I never took climate change seriously until last year, when a mother and her child drowned in flooding just a few streets away from my home in Islamabad. This year the flooding is even worse. At least 150 people, including women and children, have died from heavy monsoon rains across Pakistan in 2022. Hamid mir wrote in his article .

Flood effected women taking medical treatment

Sherry Rehman, climate change minister, says. that recent rainfall has been 87 percent heavier than in previous years.

I walked for about 35 kilometers while in labor because the flood had damaged the road between my village and the hospital, said Bakht Nama khairullah ,32, from Harania in Baluchistan province, reported UNFPA .

Over 30 million people have been affected by the flood and 6.4 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. among them are more than 1.6 million women of reproductive age, with nearly 130,000 pregnant women in need of urgent health service .More than 42,000 women are due to give birth in the next three months.

UK government’s COP26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific and South Asia Ken O’Flaherty said that the UN has found that women were more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men around the world, saying they constitute a large majority of the world’s poor and often depend on small-scale farming for a livelihood, which is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

“Women and children can comprise 80% of those displaced by climate-related disaster,” Ken said, saying addressing gender inequality has also been proven to advance efforts to tackle climate change. It is women, girls and those who are already most marginalized, that will be most severely impacted by climate change, he said but added that they also have a critical role to play to address the climate crisis.

Flood effected pregnant women

Climate change/crises effects the women and girl in number of ways in Pakistan. Women are responsible to do house chores, they cook on woodfire and fulfilling the need of water at home is another big responsibility of women and girls at home. Fetching water is also a threat for young girls as many of girls got missing and sexually assaulted during this activity in rural areas of Pakistan.

“ women travel for an average of two kilometers daily for water collection.  women are exposed to wild animals, and sexual harassment and suffer malnutrition because of how much effort it takes for them to go and collect water from far-flung areas. Oxfam report says.

Zari Ashraf, a gynecologist from Multan is giving her volunteer services to the pregnant women suffered in recent flood near Multan (south Punjab).She raised the voice of flood effected pregnant women from tunas and high light that number of women in theses areas are expecting delivery in coming months but have not access to healthy food , medication and event doctors for regular checkups. .

Extreme heat and long period of summer not only effecting the crops production but also the life of women. In Punjab, farmers hire women for planting rice crops in field, women are also hired on daily basis for picking cotton and potatoes etc. This caused many skin diseases adding arthritis.

Sakina was crying with tears, her  hands were shivering , she was in intensive care unite because of her c-section .Unfortunately she lost her baby boy , Her first baby after her 5years of marriage. She is living in Qadarbad , a small village area near Sahiwal , Punjab.

After the plantation of coal power plant in Qadarbad, the air and water quality of this area goes worse day by day. People are suffering with cough, asthma and liver issues because of the dark smoke in this area and mixture of dirty plant water in the tab water. Sakina’s baby were effected because of her poor health during pregnancy  which caused by the use of dirty water for drinking and oxygen level in body. She lost her baby in her seventh  month of  pregnancy.

Climate change is gravely affecting women, says Syed Abubakar in  an expert discussion in Islamabad, he  highlighted that climate change is most likely to have unequal gender impacts. It’s critical to empower women, to deal with extreme weather events. But it’s unfortunate that they are the least priority.

Today, when climate change is adversely affecting the quality and quantity of our most precious resource, water – its implications directly affect rural women.(LEAD Pakistan)

With a rise in temperature and less availability of clean water, most women suffer from deplorable health conditions. It is reported that heatwaves affect pregnant women gravely. The high temperature can increase the chances of going into labor early, having a stillbirth, or having a baby with low birthweight.

Climate crisis not only effecting the life of women and young girls but also becoming the biggest cause of depression and anxiety . After covid _19 people shifted their attention towards therapists and the years 2021_2022 shows the extreme weather changes in Pakistan especially in Baluchistan and Punjab.

Rufiyaa , a 36 years old , mother of 5 children suddenly got missing . She was the resident of Jahaz ground Sahiwal . Her husband is a street  hawker and having four daughters and one son. But life become worse as the extreme heat hits his husbands attitude. He start beating her on daily basis, he also force her to go out and find some work .

After almost five days , police find her body in a water tank near their house. She  commit suicide because of her husbands harsh attitude but his husband is free. Nor  Police  and neither her family member  register any FIR against him.

In Pakistan , another big issue which is not only damaging the reputation of Pakistan internationally but also creating a chaos in our society is our missing women and girls.

The police  report highlighted a disturbing figure of 40,585 women having been abducted between 2017 and January 2022 from all 36 districts of Punjab. The police claimed to have recovered or traced 37,140 of them. They have also arrested 53,459 suspects, while 12,374 others are still at large. However, due to a lack of disaggregated data, it is not known how many of those arrested were convicted or what became of the cases against them.

Women in Asian country is suffering the most. Domestic violence, pregnancy difficulties, complexities in relationships, less education, expectation of a baby boy and goes on.

Sajida was just 18 when she suddenly left her house and got missing. Her family tried a lot to find her but after years effort they failed. Suddenly after 6 years, her mother receive an unknown call telling the address of Sajida.

She met a guy and fall in love with her. He trapped her to get married and go abroad . when she left home with him, he sell her  . She escaped from them after three years of struggle and a family gave her a job for household but the male in that house force her for sexual relationship and now she was pregnant and that man  was not accepting that baby.

Sajida met her family after six years of harsh experience in the society. This is not a new thing. A police official told that number of kidnap cases ended on love marriage stories and mostly people used these girls, sexually assaulted them and then kill them and throw their bodies. It is hard to reach out the realities of every story.

Women in Asian country is suffering the most. Domestic violence, pregnancy difficulties, complexities in relationships, less education, expectation of a baby boy and goes on.

In an interview with the DPO Sahiwal, on a  question about the honor killing cases, he respond that  Still we are facing theses incidents even in Punjab especially in south Punjab but the problem is who will complaint against the killer?

In honor killing , the family , Father, Brother or Husband kill the women and buried her , how can we identify that honor killing is happened somewhere until we find any clue.

Number of women and girls have been killed in Punjab due to the in tolerance of the male members of the family but data is missing.

Climate crises also highlighted the issue of missing women because they want to run from their hardships in rural life. Taking care of animals, working in fields, fetching water and early marriages ,Jahan ara a psycho therapists told.

I have worked  with the women in truma centers especially in Lahore, they left home for better life in cities, a charm of life in big cities. They also want to sleep in cold rooms in hot summers, wear branded clothes etc. but unfortunately in this way of chasing their dream , they lost their selves.

Jahan ara further added that we are failed to make any mechanism or implement any legal frame work to protect our youngsters from these criminals. Many young girls got pregnant but  was not aware about the father  and  in the end who will take care the kid , it is another big question mark.

A young girls body was found dead on Karbala road Sahiwal on 11th Moharram this year. She was 20 and belongs to the families who came Sahiwal  during Moharram for the maintenance of  graveyard . There were almost 8 families who lived in open sky or tents for the ten days of Muharram .

That girl was got missing on 10th Moharram and her family go back to their native city on 11th and in evening police found her body. In cctv footage police found her with two boys who gave her overdose of Nasha ( Narcotics) . Parents did not receive her body.

Most of the kidnappings were reported in Lahore with 76 in 2017, 141 in 2018, 235 in 2019, 313 in 2020 and 1,098 in 2021.

The Punjab police data has revealed that out of the 3,571 women still missing most of them had disappeared from Lahore. Of these, 136 women were reported abducted in 2017, 234 in 2018, 344 in 2019, 462 in 2020, while 2021 witnessed an alarming situation, as 2,395 girls and women were allegedly kidnapped in Punjab.

Most of the kidnappings were reported in Lahore with 76 in 2017, 141 in 2018, 235 in 2019, 313 in 2020 and 1,098 in 2021.

According to the region-wise break-up, the report stated that 267 girls and women had been kidnapped from Sheikhupura region since 2017, 236 from Gujranwala, 374 from Rawalpindi, four from Sargodha, 143 from Faisalabad, 338 from Multan, 151 from Sahiwal, 78 from Dera Ghazi Khan and 117 from Bahawalpur region.

A woman is discriminated and is also vulnerable because of lack of economic independence. When it comes to financial independence in a developing country, women participation is clearly less. Pakistan is no exception. In order to achieve human freedom, social progress and economic uplift of women, education is essential.

The literacy rate of women in Pakistan is 45% which is extremely alarming, especially in the rural areas. On the contrary, the literacy rate of men is 69%. All the governments considered the national development of women a major policy attribute but still the educational level is low. Pakistan’s Government has accepted to maintain gender equality by “gender mainstreaming” that nurtures the incorporation of gender sensitive policy into the national development policies in every sector as envisaged in the UN Convention on Rights of Children, Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and 4th Conference on Women in Beijing, 1995 and the UN Millennium Declaration 2000. Despite the commitments for sustaining gender equity in education, the targets are unachieved with 76% of female adults being illiterate.

Regardless of developed or developing nations, women should be treated equally as men like equal pay, education, health, marital status, land ownership rights. The women should no longer be a vulnerable creature. A number of steps have been taken internationally for women to live a life of dignity and freedom from domination and aggression. Still, a lot more is to be done with more focus on judicial enforcement of cultural, social and economic rights of women. Recognition of women rights as human rights can play a vital role in improving their life.

Back to top button