Not equals: Women of Upper Dir rise against disenfranchisement

Say police told them the polling station had a bomb as a ruse.

Our Correspondent June 01, 2015

UPPER DIR: Women from Upper Dir on Sunday accused police officials of preventing them from voting in local government polls (held on May 30) at Government Girls Middle School Wari. They protested on Dir-Peshawar Road, blocking it for traffic.

Some 50 women gathered from different areas of Wari. They shouted slogans against the government and law-enforcement officials.

The protesters demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan take notice. “The police officials told us a bomb had been planted by militants inside the school and asked to vacate the building,” said Saeeda, one of the protesters. “However, when we exited the school, they locked the school gates and did not allow us cast ballots.”

Another protester said that when voters arrived at the government school, they were forcibly kept outside, preventing them from voting. “Once the polling station was closed, polling never re-started” said Faiza, another protester. “How can the government boast that it supports equal rights for women and then disenfranchise them, stopping them from simply exercising their right to vote?”

The women who had travelled from far said they gathered on the thoroughfare to garner attention. Protesters said they want to pressure the ECP and the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to take notice of the issue. Strict punishment needs to be meted out to those responsible for preventing women from exercising their right to vote, said the women.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2015. 

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