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Pakistan - Over 5.000 enlige kvinder og mere end 40.000 faderløse børn lider fortsat!

PAKISTAN: Women hit hardest in quake aftermath

IRINnews.org, 8. september 2006

Tusinder af ofre for sidste års jordskælv lever fortsat under dybt foruroligende forhold. Enlige kvinder er hårdt ramt efter at have mistet deres mand, ikke mindst som følge af uhensigtsmæssige sociale strukturer og en arveretslige sædvaneregler, der absolut ikke begunstiger kvinderne. Børn, som er faderløse, anses derfor også som "forældreløse", selvom de fortsat har deres mor, netop som følge af de vanskeligheder, som enlige mødre har med at kunne opretholde en indkomst, der kan forsørge en familie.

... 11 måneder efter jordskælvet lever tusinder af ofre uden håb om fremtiden - og hovedparten er kvinder! - ©  Ramita Navai/IRIN
MUZAFFARABAD, 8 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - Traditional coping systems have been stretched to breaking point following last year’s massive earthquake in northern Pakistan and women are bearing the brunt.

Nearly 75,000 people died in the October quake that flattened towns and villages making some 5,500 women widows and particularly vulnerable.

Gula Jan lost her husband seven years ago, but her position is typical of many of the widows at Chelha Bandi camp for quake survivors, who are relying on the waning support of extended family.

"Since [my husband died] my brother has supported us, but he lost a lot in the earthquake and cannot support me anymore. He also has eight children of his own," Gulab said from the camp, in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

"I was a maid before but there are no jobs for me now. And even if I would find work again, it would not be enough for my family. Besides, I have no land either - the earthquake took it," she said.

In the aftermath of the quake, vulnerable groups such as women, have been hardest hit according to the government. Northern Pakistan is a largely rural area where women already struggle with gender discrimination, social exclusion, illiteracy, socio-economic difficulties and low incomes.

According to tradition, women in this strongly conservative region traditionally stayed at home raising their children while men went out to work.

Since the disaster their roles have changed drastically. Women are often the main breadwinners for the family where the male head of the household has either died or suffered from permanent physical disabilities.

The government's Earthquake Relief and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) has established a social protection strategy to focus on vulnerable groups in the earthquake-hit districts of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

According to the ERRA, customary practices often denied women their right to inheritance and limited their access to property, income and livelihood options.

The government has recommended providing technical assistance to vulnerable groups, including widows, but it would primarily only be available to property owners.

For the poor majority who have no property, community-based care options are being considered, but no plan has yet been finalised.

While the quake aftermath has highlighted women’s vulnerability, family and kinship structures have proved expedient in coping with another vulnerable group – orphaned children.

Nearly 41,000 children became orphans as a result of the earthquake and nearly all have been spontaneously fostered by extended family members.

While most cultures consider children who have lost both parents to be orphans, in Pakistan a child who has lost his or her father is considered an orphan too.

Older women who provide for the protection of orphaned grandchildren must ensure their own safety as well as that of those in their care.

Nuran Bibi is a grandmother to nine children who lost their parents in the earthquake.

"I don't know how it will work out. I cannot support all nine of them," Nuran said from her shelter.

Naheed Bibi, 18, the oldest of Nuran's grandchildren, goes to an Islamic school and will become a teacher within a year. Now living in Chamra Camp, also in Muzaffarabad, her future is uncertain.

"I don't know what will happen to us," said Bibi. "When I finish school I cannot support the eight others and my grandmother. My father was a shopkeeper and my mother a housewife. We struggled then [before the earthquake] but now it is hopeless."

© IRIN - This article appeared originally on IRIN News.org and is published by engelund.dk according a general agreement. To view the original article, please click here.
IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) is a project of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
[This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]


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Opdateret d. 20.9.2006