Pakistan And Fata’s Abused And Murdered Women


Fata’s forgotten women


HINA Shahnawaz was 27-year-old when she was murdered in Kohat in February 2017. Working for a non-governmental organisation in Islamabad, she was her family’s sole breadwinner. Educated and with a promising career trajectory, hers was an extraordinary achievement for an unmarried tribal woman — so extraordinary that it evoked the anger of her semi-educated male cousin. When she refused his marriage proposal, he shot her in the heart in her own home because, according to rewaj (tribal custom), she was a blot on his clan’s honour. For women like her, achieving socio-economic emancipation is often tantamount to death. “Women are treated worse than dogs under rewaj,” explains a young woman from Kurram Agency who has been ‘exchanged’ through a jirga decision to settle a feud.

In the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, women have been invisible and voiceless for centuries. Because women cannot be seen to be counted, their population is based on estimates in the absence of official figures. According to the 1998 national census, Fata’s female population is 1.5 million, with around a three per cent literacy rate. The region has long been considered a difficult, if not impossible, area to access. And because Fata and most of the Pakhtun belt is a militarised and controlled space, it is impossible to investigate incidents of abuse and violence against women. “Fata has always been treated as a strategic space where people have been denied their political rights for 70 years,” says Bushra Gohar, a senior member of the Awami National Party (ANP).

Deprived of basic education and healthcare, women have suffered the most from this neglect. Dowry is legal, property is denied to women when it involves shared lands and a woman is considered her family’s honour — to be bought, sold, bartered and killed. “Women risk punishment, even death, if the honour of the clan is violated,” explains Sakeena Rehman, an ANP representative from Mohmand Agency. When Noreen Naseer, an activist from Kurram Agency, conducted a survey in her area of women’s views on tribal practices, most matriarchs were resigned to their fate — but younger women expressed anger at oppressive customs sanctioned through the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). Ms Naseer, who teaches at the University of Peshawar, claims that “even a 21st century Pakhtun man believes his cultural practices are superior and that tribal society is egalitarian.”

In the process to mainstream the tribal areas, is the state acting like its colonial predecessor and bargaining away women’s rights?

Absent from the table

There are no mechanisms in the almost 120-year-old FCR to protect women against practices such as swara, badala-i-sulh (‘exchanged’ to settle feuds), valvar (‘exchanged’ for money), ghag (being forcibly ‘claimed’) and honour crimes. According to Ms Naseer, most tribal families have experienced at least one honour killing. Given the prevalence of such violence, why have crimes against women gone largely undocumented?

“There are no police stations in our tribal areas to register cases; there are no courts or independent tribunals. Women are at the mercy of informal justice systems,” Ms Naseer explains. She is involved with the Qabaili Khor (tribal sisters) network, comprising about a hundred women, including Ms Rehman. Advocating in favour of mainstreaming Fata, they want the judicial system to extend to Fata — but is anyone listening? “Our women and girls want to go to school, but all they do is collect sticks from the mountains and walk miles for water. Change will come only with a legal system that replicates the [country’s] judicial mechanism,” Ms Rehman posits. One of two women on the seven-member ANP reform watch committee, she believes women’s voices must also be heard through jirgas, especially if they are to have a role in a reformed set-up. Whether that actually happens is to be seen, but disrupting a centuries-old patriarchal order will require time and political will.

Ms Gohar concedes that it is not easy for women to be nominated onto all-male consultation committees. “Political parties must take responsibility, as the reform package will go through a parliamentary committee. Parties must be put on the spot for not nominating women to key decision-making forums. Women should not be absent from the table,” she says.

The FCR and the Rewaj Act

There is no mention of women in the colonial-era FCR, with one exception — Article 30, Chapter IV: “any married woman, who knowingly and by her consent, has sexual intercourse with any man who is not her husband, is guilty of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which many be extended to five years or a fine or both.” The complaint must come from a husband or a guardian, leaving women vulnerable to abuse. In November 2015, Fazeelat Bibi, accused of committing adultery, was killed by her brother-in-law in Khyber Agency. Her husband filed a case with the FCR commissioner in Peshawar against the jirga and political agent in Landi Kotal, who had sanctioned her murder under rewaj. “She was property, so she was used as a sacrificial goat,” says Ms Naseer. Even if justice is served in her case, it will come too late. “Our state has forgotten women,” human rights activist I.A. Rehman says.

When a six-member, all-male govern­ment committee made recommen­dations, including replacing the FCR with the Rewaj Regulation for Tribal Areas, women’s rights were sidestepped. Recommendations include the jirga system — with no reference to women’s inclusion — for civil and criminal matters, with the court appointing a council of elders to adjudicate in accordance with tribal customs. “The jirgas will inherit all the traditions of the FCR jirga, including indifference and hostility towards women. There is no reference to women’s inclusion in the new jirgas,” Mr Rehman says. Ms Gohar concurs, “Rewaj is the new face of the FCR. Vested interests want the status quo to remain untouched, and they include the civilian bureaucracy, the military and the maliks.”

Having witnessed jirga decisions followed in her area, Ms Naseer says, “Almost all jirga members have killed female family members in the name of honour.” She believes that most jirgas comprise illiterate people with no knowledge of forensic sciences or DNA tests. “Elders are paid allowances by political agents for sitting in jirgas so, yes, they will resist abolishing this centuries-old system. Customs of rewaj are also manipulated for their benefit,” she tells Dawn.

The way forward is marked with uncertainty: how will the state allow the people of Fata, women included, to move into a new social and political status? “Laws cannot be made without social development and education, and without women’s participation,” Mr Rehman points out. So far, the voices of tribal women have been ignored. Just how much say is allowed to women in male-dominated consultative bodies in the future can only be imagined. But without their participation, it will be impossible to mainstream tribal communities and bring reforms to this historically neglected part of the country.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2017

Final Post about Power Plant Stories

Power Plant Men

I began writing Power Plant stories on this blog in January 2012 after the death of Sonny Karcher, the first Power Plant Man that welcomed me into the Power Plant Family in 1979 when I arrived as a summer help.  Sonny died on November 11, 2011 (11/11/11), a significant day for me.  Sonny had always expected me to write stories about the men and women at the plant, so I felt as if I owed it to him.

I wrote one story each week for four years, making a total of 208 short stories, each about 2,000 words.  Some shorter, some longer.  Every Friday night or Saturday morning I would sit down at the computer and think back to the days when I worked with some of the greatest people on the planet.

I left the plant in 2001 and went to work for Dell.  While I was at Dell…

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Bernie Sanders with Northern Cheyenne President L. Jace Killsback

Published May 22, 2017

BILLINGS, MONTANA — A delegation of Northern Cheyenne Nation traveled to Billings to attend the campaign rally for Montana Democratic Candidate Rob Quist, who is seeking to fill the lone House of Representative seat in the United States Congress left vacant when Ryan Zinke resigned to become secretary the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Candidate Rob Quist was joined in Billings by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and for a one-on-one consultation with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe that included, Northern Cheyenne President L. Jace Killsback, Vice-President Conrad Fisher, Executive Assistant Brandon Woodenlegs and Tribal Councilman Waylon Rogers.

Senator Bernie Sanders listens to concerns of Northern Cheyenne tirbal leaders.

During the meeting with Quist and Senator Sanders the Northern Cheyenne Delegation was able to address topics that have impacted the day-today life on the reservation such as public safety on U.S. Highway 212, healthcare and the failing Indian Health Service system on our reservation, education funding and the economy. Also during the one-on-one consultation, Vice-President Fisher was able to discuss cultural resource management issues such as preservation and protection of historic sites such as the Rosebud Battlefield, National Park Service Little Bighorn Battlefield, Wolf Mountain Battlefield and other sites important to the tribe.

Councilman Rogers was able to share his concerns in regards to the meth epidemic, related drug abuse on our reservation. He also included the lack of proper mental health services for our Northern Cheyenne People to be able to utilize the program to help improve the quality of life for our Northern Cheyenne People.

During a speech given by President L. Jace Killsback, he expressed how important it was for Montana to get Rob Quist to D.C. “We have to ensure that not just the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, but all the other tribes in Montana stand in solidarity, because this Republican Administration cannot continue to divide and conquer our people” and “Our tribe has never been to the table with this administration, and we believe that Rob will lead us there.” Prior to leaving the stage, the Northern Cheyenne President and other leaders present, announced that the tribe officially endorses Candidate Rob Quist for U.S. Congress.

19 Dead, 50 Injured In Manchester Arena Explosion During Ariana Grande Concert

Nineteen people were killed and 50 were injured during a major explosion at England’s Manchester Arena Monday night while Ariana Grande was performing.

Source: 19 Dead, 50 Injured In Manchester Arena Explosion During Ariana Grande Concert

Wir leben in einer verrückten Welt voller verrückter Menschen


Das ist eine Dreistigkeit und eine Frechheit. Ich beschäftige mich nun schon ein paar Tage damit und heute wollte ich mich mal zu dem Thema äußern.

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Denver man arrested after removing transgender woman’s testicles


Denver man arrested after removing transgender woman’s testicles

DENVER — A man without a medical license was arrested after allegedly using an Army surgical kit to remove the testicles of a transgender woman at her apartment, the Denver Police Department said.

James Pennington, 57 of Denver, is alleged to have removed the testicles and sutured the opening while the woman’s wife watched the 90-minute procedure on Wednesday, May 17th, according to a probable cause statement.

RELATED: Probable cause statement

The surgical kit included a scalpel, Iidocaine, medical dressings and other medical equipment.

Pennington told the victim if any “complications” developed to call 911, according to the statement.

The wife called 911 about 2 p.m. after blood was coming from the incision.

Paramedics said the testicles could not be reattached because of the time between the procedure and the call to 911, police said.

A doctor with Medical Center of Aurora said the victim suffered serious bodily injury and “risk of permanent disfigurement,” according to the statement.

Pennington was interviewed by police on Thursday and, according to the probable cause statement, “confessed to completing this surgical procedure without medical license.”

Pennington was arrested for investigation of first-degree aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. He is being held without bond.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office will make the final determination if charges will be filed.

Federal Government Outlines Plan To Punish Sanctuary Cities

The federal government on Monday spelled out its plan to punish sanctuary cities.

Source: Federal Government Outlines Plan To Punish Sanctuary Cities

Praising us for acting neurotypical is *not* Asperger’s / autism acceptance 

the silent wave

A little over a year ago, when I first had the sneaking (strong) suspicion that I’m probably on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, I met with my counselor, a kind and empathetic person whom I’d been meeting with semi-regularly for the past few years.

A couple of sessions before that day, I had informed him of the new discovery.

Although he had gotten to know me well in the several years before that day, and although he was a very nice guy and fairly competent professional, it was I who initially brought up the Asperger’s/autism possibility. Like every other professional I’d seen, he had “missed it”, altogether overlooking the possibility. I had overlooked the possibility, too, but then, I’m not a specialist in this area. Therefore, I’m probably “allowed” to have overlooked it. It wasn’t my field, and I was by no means an expert.

Despite our long-ish track record (several years)…

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Source: Waves

Actually Autistic Blogs

Source: Actually Autistic Blogs