Fighting for women’s rights in shadow of guns
The 50-year-old, who is the only female in the 41-member community council in the troubled Sangin town of southern Helmand province, told Pajhwok Afghan News men could not take away her courage and actions in defence of women’s rights.
Zuhra, who has raised a 15-member local police force and is often seen on frontlines in clashes with insurgents, regretted all men she knew worked for promoting their own interests and had no concerns about the masses.
She said she had rebelled from social norms that made it difficult for women to come out of homes. Zuhra said some male colleagues in the council were against her at a time she was under threat from Taliban insurgents.
Despite cultural barriers, she said a number of females had started working in small projects in Sangin. To defend the working women, Zuhra alleged her male colleagues in the council once subjected her to kicks and fists in the district headquarters.
She said she had her tribe support, but the Taliban had found her cell number and were threatening and cursing her over the phone.
“I have no fear of death. I have my gun and can fire it. I would continue to serve my nation and win women their rights as long as I am alive.”
A resident of Chahar area, Zuhra’s local police squad has lost three members so far to clashes with insurgents and still maintains security in the area.
She said her economically weak family has 18 members and she recently lost a son to a landmine blast.
She said so far no government official had come to Sangin to resolve problems facing residents. She said there were two major tribes in Sangin --- Ishaqzai and Alokozai. But the government, which supports Alokozai tribe, has completely ignored Ishaqzai, she lamented.
She asked the government to take practical steps towards initiating development projects, a move she believed would help stem insurgency in Sangin. Otherwise, she warned the problems could multiply.
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