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One woman stands tall

Mai Jori is an illiterate farmer, with nine children to care for.  She lives in a village called Gullam Muhammed Jamoli in Balochistan where girls have a lower status than livestock, and where villagers like her routinely walk kilometres every day to get drinking water for their families.

A couple of years ago, in her region, three teenage girls and two women were beaten, shot and then buried alive for defying the custom of arranged marriage.  A local senator Sardar Israrullah Zehri later stood up in Parliament to say that burying women alive was a local custom that should be respected.  Later, Pakistani widower-in-chief aka the Prime Minister,  Asif Zardari naturally named him as a Cabinet Member.

In this atmosphere Mai Jori has declared herself a candidate for local elections.

Hats off to her.

Mai Jori is trying to stand tall in a tsunami of misused power.  We can only wish her well though all the time wondering how on earth she will ever manage to hold her ground against such a current.

As a journalist in the region, I have covered more stories about the torments that the poorest and most disenfranchised women go through on a daily basis than I can bear to recall.  From Bangladesh, to India, to Pakistan, I have heard tearfully recounted stories of rapes, forced marriages, violence, imprisonment and forced prostitution by traffickers.

Over the years, I began to feel that this violence against women, especially in this region would never stop because the mentality would never change.  A general mentality that was nurtured in hundreds of different ways, to think of women as intrinsically of less human than men.

But occasionally, the Mai Jori’s of this world offer some light at the end of a long long tunnel of despair.

2 Comments on “One woman stands tall”

  1. #1 Dev Narayan
    on Mar 1st, 2010 at 5:50 am

    Stunned in shock !!! That’s how one would be after reading senator Sardar Israrullah Zehri’s support to the local custom of burying women alive. One would wonder whether this man would bury his own daughter if it be so! Pakistan, regret to say, is a proxy state with all the illness of a badly governed country. Women there, is living a life which for us outsiders may feel as below livestock status! Pakistan women may not live a better life unless the country sees good governance. Pakistan is a country in shambles. The name sake civilian government is a helpless lot. Their puppetry will bring no justice to any woman let alone Mai Jori. No Mai Jori can bring any visible change unless good governance `descend’ upon this unfortunate State! Good governance will be hard to come as long as the military is more interested in `governing’ the country than protecting it! Beyond that it is even more tough for the women in Pakistan to bring about a change in the beliefs and customs of a society which base its ill treatment of women on rigorous interpretations of different religious tenets. As Mai Jori makes her attempts, let us pray women like Mai Jori will get a chance to live a free life which Mai Jori may be dreaming of!

  2. #2 Mehtab
    on Mar 9th, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    One the eve of International Women’s day Mai Jori stands as symbol for change where in a vibrant democracy and also an inspiration for many individuals who aspire to do more for their country. While the chances are that she might not win but this does not take away her courage to step up and break imposed norms of society, Thumbs up for the courageous Mai Juri Jamali, who stand against 3 Tribal Sardar Candidates (Monsters).

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