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Women marchers in Pakistan brave hardships better

Publication Date : 19-08-2014

 

Participants of the two sit-ins in Pakistan have shown impressive resilience under severe weather, but it were the women workers of both the t Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) who impressed more in suffering the harsh conditions silently.

With the day temperatures touching 35 degrees centigrade in the federal capital, the 60 per cent humidity on Monday made the sizzling heat extremely uncomfortable for the heavily dressed women.

“It seems the sun is burning and there is not the slightest whiff of air to give a feeling of cool even under the shade,” said a PTI worker lying under a tree on the greenbelt of Kashmir Highway.

Like his friends, he looked tired after more than three days into the ‘Azadi’ march. In contrast a couple of women party supporters taking rest on chairs looked quite cheerful and full of energy.

“We have to be extra careful about the reputation of our party because there are cameras all over and the media can air footages if the PTI women workers sleep on the grass,” said Shaheena, who has come from Murree.

Without shelter, humid weather conditions add to suffering of the participants.

While there were a limited number of PTI women workers who have arrived from other cities, the conditions seemed totally different at the other sit-in across the greenbelt.

Despite glorification by the media and the general public for their active and highly disciplined role in the ‘Inqilab’ march, the PAT women workers were facing more hardship than their male comrades.

The participation of women in any party activities helps develop decent norms among its ranks and creates a family-like atmosphere where the men have to behave with manners.

“Besides, one key factor in preventing any onslaught by law enforcement agencies is the presence of girls and women in such a protest gathering or march,” said an official of the capital territory administration.

“The active participation of women workers in chanting slogans and dancing to the beat of the songs being played from the stage is the main attraction for the media. It also shows that the party reflects a picture of society where such gatherings are attended not by men alone,” said Samar Minallah, a social activist.

“But there are also certain emotional pressures on the women and that needs to be taken care of by the party leaderships,” she added.

During a visit to Aabpara market, members of both the PAT and PTI were seen in barbershops, some without shirts taking bath at public taps or leaking pipes and even sleeping on the footpaths.

The vast majority of women at the PAT sit-in joined the caravan in Lahore on August 14.

Though undeterred by hardships and expressing the resolve to bear all troubles for their leader, the women acknowledged that it was indecent for them to lie down in public.

The PAT women wear scarves even in the sweltering heat. Most of the ground under the shaded areas remained wet due to the recent heavy rains.

“We have physical hardships but nothing is stronger than willpower,” said Misbah, who has arrived from abroad to participate in the sit-in.

“We should keep in mind that the tragedy of Karbala occurred in summer and the resolve of women there is also known to all,” she added.

There are separate washrooms for women participants of both the sit-ins but there is no place for women to take bath. However, the women security teams of PAT have found an empty under-construction building at Aabpara where the workers can change dresses.

Nevertheless, women activists from Islamabad said they were mentally prepared to face hardships and break many cultural trends.


 

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