Special to the Eye
PAKISTAN – Discrimination exists everywhere in the world, especially for women and girls. Imagine you were born female into a society where women spend most of their time behind the walls of their compound.
Imagine that you are female living this life and totally dependent on your husband, father brother for all of your needs, and are rarely allowed to venture out into the world around you. Imagine that like so many women living in rural Pakistan that you have 10 children or more, because your husband comes to you every night and you know nothing about birth control. Imagine that you continue to have children until menopause.
Malnutrition is high, and you don’t understand how to help yourself and your children, because you have been denied an education. Girls are raised to be good wives, this means they are raised to meet all of their future husband's physical needs. Marriages are arranged by most, and girls are often married off as early as 13.
Now imagine that there is a war in your province and that your husband and your father and your brothers have been killed. This is like a death sentence for you as well.
This is what happened to hundreds of women living in Swat Valley, rural Pakistan. Between 2008-2010 the Taliban and the Pakistani Army were fighting in Swat. There have also been drone attacks, suicide bombs, and other forms of explosives.
Princess Mussarat Ahmedzeb, whose husband was the son of the last ruler of Swat Valley knew what it was like to become a widow, her own husband was mysteriously killed in 1986 in Swat. She was 25 at the time, becoming a widow with three children and one on the way. Her husband was a good and kind man.
Men like him were rare. It was to Mussarat that the widows and impoverished women turned to for help. But she didn’t want to give them a handout, as that would have no lasting effect. Princess Mussarat is an artist, practicing the old form of Swati embroidery, an art form that was dying. She decided to set up workshops and taught these women this art form. She helped the women to start a company; “Ladore” in which they are all shareholders, hence learning how to support themselves.
The Roshni Centre U.S. buys items made by Ladore and sells them in the U.S., and with the profit made by these sales, invests in a Health and Nutrition Program implemented by Swat Relief Initiative (swatreliefinitiative.org).
Please come and show your solidarity with rural Pakistani women. As The Elders (theelders.org/global-village) have said, “We were founded on the idea that we now live in a ‘global village’, an increasingly interconnected, interdependent world. We believe in listening to everyone, both critical and supportive, and encourage debate about the issues we work on.”
The Roshni Centre is having an Autumn Tea on Sunday, Oct. 14 from 3 to 6 p.m. at Courtyards At Arcata, 3101 Boyd Road.
Taking State Route 299, getting off at Giuntoli Lane/West End Road and turning left at the off ramp stop sign, and again left on Boyd Road in Arcata. The event features and power-point presentation about rural Pakistan, desserts from around the world, Pakistani Tea, and Kinetic Koffee, a Silent Auction, Dutch Raffle and hand-made Pakistani items to buy. For more information contact Rabia at (707) 826-7123 or at [email protected]