Devidaspura elders disenfranchise womenfolk

Published February 9, 2024
TOBA TEK SINGH: Polling staff waits for the women voters. — Dawn
TOBA TEK SINGH: Polling staff waits for the women voters. — Dawn

TOBA TEK SINGH: Women in Devidaspura area were not allowed to cast votes by their elders.

When the media men visited the women polling station set up in Government Girls Primary School at Chak 295-JB, the female polling staff and security personnel were present and no voter came to cast vote. The area falls in NA-106 and PP-122.

A PML-N activist, Rana Amer, said since Pakistan came into being, the women of this village had never been allowed to cast their votes in any general or local government election. This prohibition was a permanent decision enforced by their elders.

Shahbaz, a young PTI activist, said officials from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and several NGOs had organised multiple meetings with the women of this village after the 2015 local council polls and the 2018 general election. These gatherings were attended by hundreds of women.

He said women had agreed to participate in the 2024 election and visit the polling stations to cast their votes. However, they ultimately adhered to the decision of their male elders, a consensus shared by activists from all parties, despite their political differences.

It merits mentioning that previously, the ECP had set up a joint polling station at the village’s government boys elementary school. However, in 2018 and 2024, a separate polling station was established for women at the government girls primary school. Despite this, the polling station remained deserted throughout the day.

Several villagers said many girls, who had reached voting age, whether still studying in colleges and universities or having completed their education, were eager to cast their votes for the first time in their lives, but they were disallowed by their conservative elders, a tradition upheld in all previous general or local elections.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2024

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