News / Asia

Pakistani Women Determined to Vote Despite Threats

Pakistani Women Determined to Vote Despite Threatsi
May 09, 2013 11:27 PM
Women make up roughly half of Pakistan’s population, but their participation in national elections in the southwestern province of Baluchistan historically has been much lower. Sharon Behn reports that, this time, women here appear determined to make a difference in the May 11th vote for a new national assembly.
Sharon Behn
Although women make up roughly half of Pakistan’s population, in the southwestern province of Baluchistan their turnout for national elections has been much lower.
Committed to making a difference in upcoming elections for a new national assembly, however, some women say they are determined to have their votes counted on May 11.

In this volatile and conservative southwestern province, political candidate Ruqqaya Hashmi said she is a role model; as a woman and member of the targeted Hazara Shi’ite minority, she said her campaign carries considerable risk.
“I have been receiving threats for the last few days now," she said, declining to specify who is making the threats. "My movements now [are] limited. I came here [under] camouflage; I changed my clothes, I changed my driver, I changed my car.”
The election-related attacks and threats have made some women voters like Humaira Yasmeen nervous about going to the polls.
“Given the situation here, women cannot move freely. Going out is a problem," she said. "It will be very difficult for women to cast their votes, because the conditions are such that if we leave the house and there is no security, what are we going to do? It is risky, life-threatening. And, nothing is more important than life."
Another challenge, said Farah Naz, a worker with a non-governmental organization, is getting women to vote autonomously.
“The biggest problem among women is they are not taught how to vote, they depend on their men," she said. "They do exactly as they are told by their men. They should cast their votes independently.”
With the campaigning curtailed by violence, candidates are reaching women voters through TV and radio advertisements, instead of holding large rallies.
University students in Quetta such as Kanza Shakeel, who said she is fed up with insecurity and unemployment, appear determined to have their voices heard.
“The old leaders, who are just leading Pakistan from last years, I don’t want that they came again," she said. "I just want this kind of change: that new people [are elected], not the old people who are just doing and just promoting themselves by commercial, paid commercial. I am just hating them.”
With low turnout expected on election day, those women who brave the threats to go to the polls could have a larger influence in shaping the country’s next government.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
May 09, 2013 10:36 PM
We are brave peoples, spite of all these difficulties we are hopeful about tomorrow. This is the duty of LAZY GOVT to provide safety and security to common people. They are taking millions of salary and fringe benefits each year from poor pakistani tax money. Atleast they should feel shame what they are doing with poor pakistani.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs