Women 'barred from voting' in Pakistan local elections

As Pakistan prepares to hold regional elections, concerns have been voiced that women will be barred from voting

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The Independent Online

Women are being banned from voting in some parts of Pakistan, it has been alleged.

This weekend, local government elections are taking place in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan. But for women in some of the more socially conservative regions, voting may not be an option.

It has been claimed by local politicians and elders that parties running in elections have made deals which would prevent women from casting their ballots, The Guardian has reported.

Geo News meanwhile has reported that the four major political parties have backed a Fatwa issued by a local mosque to prevent women from taking part in the election. Leaders from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Jamiat Ulema-i- Islam-F are reported to have been present at a meeting in the local mosque when the parties jointly agreed to block women from participating in the polls.

In a parliamentary by-election earlier this month in Lower Dir, a petition was lodged with the high court by 12 women who alleged that female voters had been intimidated by men with batons blocking them at polling stations. The Pakistan Tribune has reported that of the 54,000 women eligible to vote in the region, none of them cast their ballots.

The petition lodged by the women stated: “The candidates made the decision that women of the constituency would not be allowed to cast their ballot and special arrangements were made for this purpose. It included creating an atmosphere of fear and non-availability of women polling staff.”

However, the judge dismissed the women’s petition calling for the election be re-run.

Local body election are due to be held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this Saturday, according to Dunya News. It will be the first elections in the region for ten years.