In the media

Logo SAVE - Sisters against violent extremism

16. February 2011

Shabana Fayyaz, The Womens Dialogue © Frauen ohne Grenzen

Shabana Fayyaz, Professor in the Defense and Strategic Studies Department of Quaid-I-Azam University

The Effects of Talibanization and radicalism on women in Pakistan

An article from "Die Standard"

In Pakistan, little importance is ascribed to women's sexual and mental health, and their access to education is hindered. Experts see international aid on the local level as an essential resource.

Women and their situation in Pakistan were the subject of a press conference held by SAVE (Sisters Against Violent Extremism) on the theme “The effect of Talibanization and radicalization on reproductive health in Pakistan” in January. The two Pakistani speakers expressed their certainty that “constant tumult and terrorist attacks” breed a “feeling of insecurity and constant fear” that has a negative effect on health - above all mental health.

Western countries often ignore the psychological consequences of the precarious political situation in Pakistan, said Mossarat Qadeem, Executive Director of PAIMAN Trust, an organization that strengthens local communities. Qadeem works together with Shabana Fayyaz, professor at Qaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, to address the concerns of women, especially in rural areas such as the tribal and federal areas over which Islamabad has little de facto control.

Depressed Women

“Imagine hearing sirens blaring ten times a day. What kind of a feeling would you carry through life?” asked Fayyaz with tears in her eyes. The constant conflict and the resulting negative environment cause many students to suffer from depression. Fayyaz therefore suggests that it is necessary that these women and future mothers are able to access psychological care. Work on the local level is essential, but for this to be effective further help from international organizations is needed, said Fayyaz.

The sexual, reproductive and mental health of women is often undervalued in Pakistan’s traditional society, although this is an “important pillar of a stable society”, explained Qadeem. Both women therefore consider awareness raising and publicity to be essential.

Huge Restrictions

The Talibanization of certain regions in Pakistan has led not only to disadvantages for women on the medical level, but also to huge limitations on their access to education and their general freedom of movement, say Fayyaz and Qadeem. Youth are particularly affected by Pakistan’s numerous problems, which include a weak education system, high unemployment and a shaky economy. These problems mean that youth’s vulnerability to radicalization and involvement in terrorism is many times higher.

It is predicted that Pakistan will experience a massive increase in population from today’s 185 million to 335 million people in 2050. According to Women without Borders, this population explosion has caused fears that these problems will increase. Family planning and consciousness of reproductive health issues are therefore decisive. The term reproductive health comprises not only diseases or disorders of the reproductive organs, but also the general psychological, physical and social well-being of women, with particular regard to sexuality and reproduction, including the ability to deicide freely if, when, and how often to have children.

Source: Die Standard (German)


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