PESHAWAR: A committee of local clerics (ulema) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Karak district banned the entry in markets of women who are not accompanied by a 'mehram' (close male family member).
The local clerics committee of Khattak Ittehad held a meeting at the Tehsil Masjid Karak, headed by former district amir of Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam Hafiz Abne Amin on Friday decided that women roaming in the city bazaars (markets) without male members of their family were a source of spreading vulgarity in the society and should be stopped.
The meeting which was also attended by Mualana Mir Zaqeem, Mualana Abdul Rehman and other clerics.
The clerics also met the local administration and the police to implement the decision but they had refused to facilitate the implementation of this decision.
When contacted, Mir Zaqeem who is the head of Khattak Ittehad, Karak city said that the decision was taken because most unaccompanied women were becoming a source of spreading vulgarity, especially in the holy month of Ramazan.
He added that a group of such women (without a mehram) were also involved in theft and robberies.
The Maulana further said that unaccompanied women in bazaars was not only against local Pakhtun culture but also against religious norms.
He added that those women who were accompanied by a mehram would not be stopped from coming to bazaars.
The clerics committee also requested local shopkeepers not to sell goods to women who are shopping alone in bazaars.
Reaction of civil society
Resident Director of Aurat Foundation Shabina Ayaz said that the decision of the ulema was a violation of fundamental human rights and was a denial of a woman's right to live on her own will.
She added that the state must act swiftly to ensure women rights.
She further said a few individuals should not have the authority to decide for 48 per cent womenfolk who had equal rights as any male member of the society in Pakistan.
Qamar Nasim the programme coordinator of a civil society organisation has termed the ban a gross violation of the women rights and demanded that authorities take action against the culprits invloved.
Nasim said a similar step was taken last year before Eid as well but due to pressure from the civil society the administration had the decision reversed.
The chief executive of Paiman Trust, Mussarat Qadeem is of the view that this order is morally, ethically and humanly an act of gross women right violation and an injustice with women.
If the jirgas and the local committees are so concerned about the women, they should come to their help and provide the daily needs to the destitute women at their doorsteps.