Women vow to defy men who banned their vote in Pakistan village

Mohri Pur: Men banned women from voting in the village of Mohri Pur sometime around 1947, and they have obeyed ever since — until this year, when changes to Pakistan´s election laws and women´s attitudes could shift the dynamic.At least, that is the hope of many women meeting beneath a Jambolan tree in the village some 60 kilometres (35 miles) from of Multan, its shade protecting them from the blazing sun. Whether the men watching angrily as the women speak to AFP reporters will allow them to follow through when the nation goes to the polls on July 25 is another question.”They perhaps think that women are stupid… or there is an issue of honour for them,” says 31-year-old Nazia Tabbasum.Village elders banned women from voting decades ago, claiming that visiting a public polling station would “dishonour” them.So-called “honour” describes a patriarchal code across South Asia that often seeks to justify the murder and oppression of women who defy conservative traditions by acts such as choosing their own husband, or working outside the home.”I don´t know where their honour goes to sleep while they lie down at home… as their women work in the fields,” Tabbasum adds, scathingly.But the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has declared that at least 10 percent of voters in each constituency must be women, otherwise its results will be voided.Nearly 20 million new voters have been registered in the rapidly growing country, including 9.13 million women, the commission says.It is another step in women´s long battle for rights in Pakistan though it does little to address the gender imbalance of the 2013 elections, in which male registered voters outnumbered female by some 11 million.The shift also sets the stage for a stand-off in conservative rural areas, like Mohri Pur. Fear of violence”The main reason is …read more

Source:: The News International – Latest news

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