Nearly 62% of Hindu and Christian women in Pakistan fear that a majority of Muslims would not come to their aid if they were being discriminated against.
This was one of the findings of the study “Life on the Margins,” which was released by the National Commission for Justice and Peace at the Pakistan Medical Association House on Tuesday. The study is based on interviews of 1,000 women in 26 districts of Punjab and Sindh from 2010 and 2011, The Express Tribune reports.
Forty-three per cent of the women surveyed complained that they faced religious discrimination at either their workplace, educational institution or neighbourhood, while 27% of them faced difficulties in gaining admissions to educational institutions. A majority of non-Muslim children polled said that they were forced to study Islamiat in school. Of the working women, 76% said that they had to deal with sexual harassment.
The report points out that the literacy rate of these women is 47%, which is below the 57% national literacy rate. The infant mortality rate among minority communities turned out to be 314 infant deaths for every 3,050 live births, or 10.30%, which is higher when compared with the World Health Organisation’s figure of the 8.7% national infant mortality rate. Nearly 20% of women were earning less than the minimum wage, 15% of them lived in mud houses and 12% in semi-brick ones.
The newly ordained Archbishop of Karachi, Joseph Coutts, has that these issues will not be resolved “unless the silent majority accepts that they exist in society,” he said.
He compared the current state of denial of these issues to the one that once existed aboutAids when people would not even talk about it. He called for a documentation of cases of kidnappings, forced marriages and conversions within minority communities.
Reports suggest that nearly 80% of Pakistanis live on the margin, as they do not have access to justice and resources, and that the problems faced by women of minority communities were similar to those faced by Muslim women in the country.
Nearly 66% of non-Muslim women were reportedly not allowed to marry of their own free will, the report added.