Sharia Alert from AFP: “Mullahs tell aid groups to fire women”
ISLAMABAD: Muslim clerics in earthquake-hit Azad Kashmir have told aid agencies to fire all local women employees or face violent protests, officials and religious leaders said on Thursday.
The threat, given to district officials and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Bagh on Tuesday, will dent hopes that the October 8 quake could have a positive effect on women’s rights in the conservative region. “We have told the administration that we will not allow NGOs to exploit our women and asked them to give a date suitable to them for removal of all female workers,” Syed Atta Ullah Shah, prayer leader of the Bagh central mosque, told Agence France Presse.
And if “we” don’t get our way:
“If our demand is not met then we will take direct action and extreme steps. There will be demonstrations and damage may be caused to public property and a law and order situation would be created in the area,” he added.
The religious leader said locals were angered by “obscene” activities at NGOs. “They hire beautiful girls and take them to Islamabad for enjoyment. They keep women in offices as decoration pieces because we know that women have no work and there is no such work that men cannot do,” Shah said. Aid groups say female workers are vital to ensure that religious and social conventions are respected when dealing with women in the devastated region, especially for health matters.
The United Nations, which has coordinated aid efforts after the quake, said it was aware of the issue. “Discussions are going on with the government and clergy. Things are not finalised yet,” Raabya Amjad, public information officer for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told AFP.