Dec 232011

ISLAMABAD, 15 DEC: Pakistani Taliban fighters cut the breasts of a woman who was breast-feeding her child and asked other women to eat the pieces, in a gory incident highlighted in a new report that details the abuse of women in the militancy-hit tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. The incident occurred when five militants walked into a house and saw the woman breast-feeding her child, The Express Tribune quoted the report titled ‘Impact of crisis on women and girls in Fata (federally Administered Tribal Areas)’ as saying.

The report, released by the human rights organisation “Khwendo Kor” (Sisters’ Home, in Pashto) with financial support from the UN, is based on case studies of women from the tribal belt living in camps set up in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (earlier North West Frontier province of NFWP) for people displaced by militancy and military operations.

Women in the FATA are more susceptible to violence and abuse in a post-conflict scenario, whether or not they are part of the conflict, the report asserts. Another finding is that women in relief camps were forced to have sex for food and non-food items. Girls and widows were at greater risk of such abuse, it said. The report said there was an increase in “honour killings” in which women who were raped were murdered because rape was considered a disgrace to the family. Forced marriages, honour killings, exchange of women between tribes and marriages with first cousins resulting in disabilities among offspring have made women in the tribal areas increasingly dependent.

Mr Akhunzada Chattan, a parliamentarian from Bajaur tribal region, said certain rituals have deprived women of their rights. “In Bajaur… usury is not something against which the cleric will stand up, but if a woman demands her share of property she is stigmatised as culturally blasphemous,” he said. Changes to the controversial Frontier Crimes Regulation have not significantly helped in improving the situation. Maryam Bibi, the woman behind the report, said the findings are based on ground realities. “Although it is hard to digest the facts, this is what the women have to go through,” she said.

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