DevelopmentGilgit - Baltistan

[Opinion] Women: always ready to die?

Safdar Ali Safdar

Gender based violence is deeply rooted in regions like South Asia even today. Stereotypes and discrimination against women gets even more dangerous and terrifying in tribal or semi-tribal societies, like that of Gilgit – Baltistan. Today, the women in GB are faced with a plethora of problems in their day to day life, leading to the drastic and growing trend of suicide.

Gilgit – Baltistan could be a paradise on earth for its pure scenic beauty, cultural diversity and natural resources, but the region has shown the tendency of being a dangerous place for women. A majority of women are trapped in their traditional roles, like domestic work, agricultural activities and caring for children, spouses and parents or in-laws. Their daily workload is heavier than that carried out by men but at the same time their work it is invisible, poorly recorded and unacknowledged. Women are expected to rigorously follow the social, religious and cultural traditions. If a woman tries to break the cycle of discrimination, she might face physical and psychological violence by her first-degree relatives like father, brother and husband.

In addition, second-degree relatives, for instance uncles and male cousins, frequently have the right to deprive her of her liberty or threaten her. It often happens that women are beaten if they try to express themselves freely, or murdered in the name of honor, or burned to death under the pretence of an accident.

Ghizer is one of the District of Gilgit Baltistan where almost 369 women have been committed suicide since 2005, due to family conflicts and other domestic problems. These cases have mostly happened among literate ladies in Yasin valley, Ishkoman, Gupis and Ponial.

The government noticed only few of the suicide cases which are registered in the polices stations. Many of these cases of ‘suicide’ have , in reality, been proven as murders, while some bodies have not been handed over to the police for autopsy. Majority of the ‘suicides’, according to media reports, are being committed by school/college going students. It is imperative for all of us to speak up and take action against such terrifying crimes of violence against women.

The increasing incidents of suicide by women in the Ghizer district is a big cause of concern and more so when all political, administrative and social organizations including NGOs remain a silent spectator to the issue. No one has tried to provide tangible and sustained social, moral, technical and legal assistance to the women to eliminate violence against them by imparting knowledge and to aware communities about changing role of women in family and contemporary context and to create space for the women to demonstrate their abilities for the benefit of their family as well as for the whole society.

Since the media is highlighting the issues of women, they must also telecast follow up stories of the affected families. So public may come to know what sort of life is lived by the women in this area. When messes will come to know how the families suffer, it will help to stop the vicious trend of suicide and/or murders disguised as suicide.

On the other hand, there is a need to work on to ground, to start a movement to strengthen the faith of the women and social reforms to be initiated in this regard. The civil society organizations and government needs to initiate programs that could bring change for women by going into the depth of the issue to find out whether cases of murder are not being termed suicide to escape the law.

The writer is a Gilgit based working journalist.

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  1. Thanks for pointing this out. Suicide rate in Ghizer in recent years has been too high to go unnoticed. It seems as if nobody is ready to analyze the sociological and psychological reasons behind it.

  2. The high incidence of major psychiatric disorder in women of this region had been identified in a study conducted in Chitral valley and published in British Journal of Psychiatry and a similar study by AKHSP in Saralkoto ,Gupis valley also reported very high incidence of psychiatric diseases and high incidence of suicide rate in this small community,
    Aga Khan Health Services,Pakistan is operating in this region for past three decades and have best infrastructure to conduct study and develop interventional strategies to deal with the rising incidence of psychiatric disorders.
    AKHSP Gilgit Baltistan should contact Dr.Abdul Wahab Yiusafzai a renown psychiatrist trained at AKUH and currently working as consultant in Shifa International Hospital,Islamabad.Dr.Yousufzai can help AKHSP to develop study design and interventional strategies.

  3. Yâ Alyý Madad !
    Los hombres no saben que cuando discriminan, castigan o matan a una mujer, ellos mismo se están suicidando, y de ésta manera, masacrando a su propia sociedad.

    ‘Abd an-Nur al-Gharib

    Translated via. google translation;

    Men do not know when discriminate, punish or kill a woman, they themselves are committing suicide, and in this way, slaughtering their own society.

  4. Indeed, women are facing suffering from their rights. Why we can’t abrogate women’s issues? What are the main reasons which contribute these problems. A mother who all the time cares about her family. She does not think about her self because her family is more important than her life. Isn,t it. Obviously, it is true but because of our conservative culture and patriotic societies, all the time, women are consider inferior than men. This is not true at all. However, women will suffer all the time if they can’t raise their voice against their rights, and if men can’t ponder about women’s role.

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