Women Face Tough Odds in Pakistan

By Gretchen Peters

Aug 28, 2006 1:40pm

Conservative Muslim clerics made it clear this week that they do not want female aid workers helping those still in refugee camps after a massive earthquake last year left more than 73,000 dead.  The clerics warned that if aid agencies continue to employ female workers, they will organize violent protests and cause damage to local property. Syed Atta Ullah Shah, the prayer leader of the central mosque in Bagh in northern Pakistan, said local residents were outraged by the employment of the female aid workers and called the aid agencies’ behavior "obscene," alleging they "hire beautiful girls and take them to Islamabad for their enjoyment."  "There will be demonstrations and damage may be caused to public property and a law and order situation would be created in the area," he threatened. Meanwhile, in the northwest Bajaur District, an extremist Islamic group has distributed "night letters" banning women from working and girls from attending school.  The letters also warn all aid groups to leave the area immediately or risk a violent backlash. Night letters are a common tactic of the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.  The Taliban, prior the U.S. invasion in 2001, had created a radical Islamic state in Afghanistan, in which they had forbade women from attending school, working and receiving health care.  Recently, the Taliban has made a comeback in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, where they repeatedly come into conflict with the Afghan army and U.S. and coalition soldiers.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus