By Imdad Baloch
Even today women in many Middle Eastern & Central Asian regions; women are oppressed, victimized and treated as slaves.
Women in Pakistan occupied Balochistan are deprived of all the basic neccessities of life like clean water, education and adequate health care facilities.
In the absense of proper health care facitilites, Baloch women often have to travel over 700 km to the nearest hospital in Karachi. Maternal mortality rates are very high among the Baloch women.
According to a Pakistan Health Demographic Survery, more than 3 times as many Baloch women die during childbirth than all the other regions of Pakistan combined.
Since the day Balochistan was annexed and occupied by Pakistan in 1948, the Punjab run State has been plundering Balochistan’s resources. Every day Baloch women are being beaten, tortured, abducted and murdered in a Pakistani Army operations in occupied Balochistan.
Though rich in natural resources like Gold, Gas, Coal and Oil, Balochistan remains one of the most impoverished and underdeveloped regions in the world.
Although Balochistan is a major natural gas producer, Baloch women have to cook food on open fires. Because of lack of clean water, illness and disease are common.
Many Baloch women are illeterate. As a result of threats and attacks on female students and educators and lack of educational facilities, many Baloch women have been prevented from learning Urdu and English and obtaining meaningful education.
Baloch women who have been educated have learnt their rights and realized that Pakistan is directly responsible for the oppression and suffering of the Baloch people. Women like BSO-Azad chairperson Banuk Karima Baloch, and Voice of Baloch Missing Persons activist Banuk Farzana Majeed hold masters degrees in their respective fields. Both are struggling for the rights of Baloch women and freedom for the Baloch nation. Banuk Farzana Majeed was at the forefront of the VBMP Long March demonstration to demand the safe release of the over 20,000 abducted and 2000 killed Baloch people.
Banuk Sammi Baloch, Banuk Saba Baloch, Banuk Farzana Majeed and 11 year old Ali Haider Baloch marched 2000km alongwith Mama Qadeer from Quetta to Islamabad via Karachi. Unfortunately despite promises from the United Nations; the international community has not taken any action to investigate or improve the shameful human rights situation in occupied Balochistan. In addition to the Long March demonstration, the VBMP has also been holding hunger strikes and protest camps for 1918 days since 2009. Banuk Farzana Majeed’s own brother Zakir Majeed was abducted by Pakistani Intelligence Agents 6 years ago. He was never seen or heard from again. Since then Banuk Farzana Majeed has been actively protesting for his safe release.
Banuk Karima Baloch is currently the chairperson of Baloch Student Organization (Azad) and prior to the abduction of former BSO-Azad chairperson Zahid Baloch by state security forces in March of 2014 Banuk Karima Baloch was the vice-chairperson of BSO-Azad. Since the abduction of Zahid Baloch, Banuk Karima Baloch initiated a campaign to protest the enforced disappearance of the former BSO-Azad chairperson. Although BSO-Azad has been holding continual protests, demonstrations, hunger strikes, and social media campaigns, former chairperson Zahid Baloch is still being unlawfully imprisoned by State forces without charge or crime
As a result of her active campaign to demand the safe release of Zahid Baloch, Banuk Karima Baloch has been regularly threatened by the Pakistani State Agents. On a number of occasions her home was attacked by Security Forces, who on one occasion even bombarded her house with mortars. Despite state persecution, threats and attacks, Banuk Karima Baloch bravely stands against the occupier state’s oppression and persecution. She is considered to be an effective leader, and is universally admired and respected as a true daughter of the Baloch nation. Most recently, BSO-Azad announced an awareness campaign and rallies on March 18th the day Zahid Baloch was unlawfully abducted by State Security Forces in Quetta one year ago.
Banuk Farzana Majeed and Banuk Karima Baloch are but two examples of a nation of strong bold women who are perpetually faced with untold suffering and severe inequality. Every day the mutilated dead bodies of their Brothers, Fathers, and Husbands are found dumped in Occupied Balochistan. Pakistani Armed Forces carry out constant military operations against tiny rural villages injuring and killing countless civilians. Thousands more have been displaced within their own homelands, forced to flee the unending violence dealt upon them by the Occupier State’s cruel armies. Many Women too are abducted and martyred by State Forces in occupied Balochistan, taken to torture cells and subjected to usnpeakable atrocities. In 2006 Pakistani Security Agencies abducted Zareena Marrie along with her 6 year old son Murad Bux. Since their enforced abduction, her status and location remain unknown.
Baloch Women have set an example for all of us, they have shown us their bold tenacity and perserverance in the face of extreme adversity. Despite such harsh realities; today’s Baloch Women have never abandoned hope, they are bravely standing at the front lines of the Baloch struggle for freedom with obstinate resolve.