Saturday, May 25th, 2024

Baloch rights activist Mehrang Baloch highlights exploitation of women in Balochistan

Baloch rights activist Mehrang Baloch has highlighted the atrocities being committed against Baloch women by the Pakistan government.

She was speaking at the fifth edition of the Asma Jahangir Conference 2024, titled “People’s Mandate, Protection of Civil Rights in South Asia” which concluded in Lahore on Sunday. Sama TV reported that it saw the participation of several judges, human rights activists, Pakistan government officials.

The event saw prominent personalities from Sri Lanka, Denmark, the Middle East, Europe, Great Britain and Norway discuss the situation of human and civil rights at the South Asian conference.

During the program, Mehrang Baloch made a statement highlighting the atrocities committed by the Pakistan government on Baloch women.

Discussing the topic ‘Women in Conflict and the Gender Costs of Violence’, Mehrang Baloch said, “Women are the biggest victims of state violence, but they have lost their identity to this conflict. They are often identified as sisters, wives, mothers and daughters of victims of violence. No one will ever know their real name and identity. No one can ever understand the pain of these mothers, who found the mutilated bodies of their sons.”

“They often request the administration to at least preserve the faces of these victims, as these faces are the last memories these mothers have of their beloved sons. And now this mutilated face of their loved one will become another memory and will remain fresh in the consciousness of these mothers,” he said.

She also highlighted the dire humanitarian crisis in the region and said women were being raped and sexually assaulted.

“The eyes and other parts of the face that a mother often loves and recognizes since the child’s birth have become distorted to such an extent that they cannot even recognize their own child. Governments obsessed with gaining power and then suppressing the weak with their policies have pushed humanity to a level that will engulf us humans for centuries to come. The memories of these conflicts between the weak and the powerful survive for centuries and remind people of the price that was paid during that conflict. And unfortunately, it is women who suffer the most in these incidents,” she said.

“Until this problem is resolved, we cannot move forward. The mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of Balochistan have been struggling like this for more than two decades. These women often face brutal punishments such as rape and sexual violence. In other parts of the world, protests and voices are often raised against atrocities on women, similarly voice should be raised against atrocities on Baloch women too. But, unfortunately, no feminists and social activists respond to the pain and suffering faced by Baloch women,” he said.

Raising the issue of enforced disappearances, Mehrang Baloch said, “The cases of enforced disappearances have been a curse for the people of Balochistan. This is not just a crime against humanity, but a tool used by the state to suppress the Baloch people and plunder their resources. For more than 20 years, Baloch women as mothers, sisters, daughters and wives have been fighting for the safe return of their loved ones. “Women are often subjected to corporal punishment and subjected to sexual and physical harassment.”

“Many places in Balochistan Awaran, Bolan and Kohlu have jails for women who participate in protests against the Pakistani administration demanding the safe return of their loved ones. Women are often given harsh punishments in these prisons. There are also cases where women are kidnapped to put pressure on these protesters. They are often sent to military and death squad camps where they are sexually and physically abused. We have also come across cases where young girls are forced to marry members of death squads,” he said.

Asma Jahangir was a prominent human rights lawyer from Pakistan and was also the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran during her lifetime, receiving the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Award. A report by the UN Human Rights Council said the award was posthumously awarded to Jahangir, who died in his home country of Pakistan in early 2018 at the age of 66.

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