Self, society and suicide in Gilgit

The construction of the Karakorum Highway (KKH) and dissolution of local principalities were the biggest changes in the modern history of Gilgit-Baltistan. Previously, modern communication and travel was a luxury afforded by a privileged few. The KKH and concomitant developments in communication have facilitated easy flow of people, goods and ideas. At the same time Gilgit-Baltistan witnessed huge investments in social development through the public and private sectors. The region witnessed unparalleled development in different spheres of life. Increase in literacy rates in some of the areas of Gilgit-Baltistan is one of the hallmarks of the development process that took place during the last four decades.

All the aforementioned developments in Gilgit-Baltistan took place on the heel of dissolution of local power structures. The new configuration of power relations and social setup within the context of rationalised institutions has far-reaching implications on the social and cultural fabric of the region. Disintegration of the old power structures led to disappearance of spaces associated with the old system. The new order of things has provided opportunities to a large section of the population whose development was stunted because of immutable power relations, rigid social stratification and parochial cultural ethos.

Expansion of mass education in the region has increased the overall literacy rate in Gilgit-Baltistan. Hunza and Ghizer are among those regions that have immensely benefited from new education facilities. These benefits are palpable in higher literacy rates among women. Concomitant with the increase in literacy rate among women, Ghizer is witnessing a sudden increase in suicides among women, especially in the younger generation.

Read complete article at The News

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