A headstrong peasant woman challenges feudal lords -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

A headstrong peasant woman challenges feudal lords

By Mohammad Hussain Khan

HYDERABAD: Some lose heart on defeat but for others it is a challenge – they carry on with the catch word `try again.’

This is exactly the case of a peasant woman, Jori Jamali who could not win bye-elections on Balochistan Assembly seat (PB-25 Jafarabad-I) but the participation emboldened her to fight for social justice for the people of her constituency.And perhaps she may be among the few to have carried out her election campaign on a donkey cart because of the shortage of resources.

“I will contest the forthcoming local bodies’ elections as there can be no better way than to fight injustices. I will fight as long as I am alive”, she told Dawn on Tuesday after leading a march in the city, organised by the Sindh Hari Porhiyat Council (SHPC) and Bhandar Hari Sangat (BHS) in connection with the International Women’s Day.

Jori Jamali had contested elections on the Awami Party Ticket on a seat fallen vacant after the killing of the provincial minister for excise and taxation, Sardarzada Rustam Jamali. She said that people of this area have to walk around 2km to fetch a few litres water from Sindh area, besides the absence of health and education facilities.

She urged the womenfolk to raise their voice for social justice and for their rights as dying with dignity is thousand times better than living cowardly.

She is a woman of steel hailing from village Ghulam Mohammad, Jafarabad where five women were buried alive in 2008 for trying to exercise their rights — two girls perhaps planning to marry the person of their choice and their three supporters, probably mothers and aunts. Even parliamentarians had defended the incident in the upper house.

Issues like karo-kari, shortage of drinking and irrigation water and almost non-existent health and education facilities brought her to the fore as she feels somebody has to stand up for their rights and who can be a better judge than she herself.

Threat from the henchmen of influential people could not dampen the courage of the mother of nine who tilled a small piece of land with the help of her husband as labourers. An opportunity she was refused by the owner ever-since losing the elections.

Ms Jori had requested security from the administration which was not provided and she says that she has to fight for the injustices being meted out to the women of the area.“People pray for the safety of their children, fearing a roof or a wall of the school may not fall on them,’ she said.

“ Benazir Bhutto was a brave woman and was killed for raising her voice for the oppressed class of the society”.

Earlier a “people’s court” declared Ms Jori victorious and a campaigner Ghaffar Pandrani termed the results as rigged: “Ms Jori’s case is reflective of the fact that a peasant or peasant woman could fight elections against tribal chiefs and feudal lords to set new precedent, he said.

Convener of Awami Party Pakistan Taj Mari, Bhandar Hari Sangat’s Ramzan Memon, SHPC’s Punhal Sario, writer Amar Sindhu, HRCP’s Dr Ishu Thama and others expressed solidarity with her.

Ms Jori told the gathering that she had almost won, had there been no rigging.

She vowed to continue her fight because she belongs to the area where women are buried alive and even men are afraid of speaking before tribal chiefs.
Source: Dawn
Date:3/17/2010