ISLAMABAD, March 26,2013 (AAMIR SAEED / UPI Next) — With Pakistan facing landmark general elections May 11, cultural bars on women voting are so entrenched in conservative parts of the country that thousands of women are unlikely to vote, interviews show.
This is the first time in Pakistan’s 66-year history that one civilian government will replace another through a vote.
Nevertheless, thousands of women, especially in restive Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, bordering Afghanistan, are unlikely to cast their ballots. Even the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has done little to end the taboo, critics say, although interviews show Pakistani women are interested in taking part in the poll.
Interviews in Mianwali, a city in Punjab province, where women were barred from voting in a 2012 by-election, showed that women are prevented by male elders from going to polling places, let alone contesting elections. A village woman who asked that her name not be used said she wanted to vote in the May elections but said, “I’m sure my husband won’t allow me to do so.” She said she had not voted in any election but that her sisters in Lahore “not only cast their vote but also attend political gatherings in their city.”