State persecution and resistance movement in Baluchistan: a case study of the role of women there

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Afzal, Muqaddas
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One of the most troubled regions in modern day Pakistan, the province of Baluchistan has been marked by decades of underdevelopment, violent insurgencies, and brutal repression on the part of the Pakistani state. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the province is also known for a “traditional” and “patriarchal” culture and lags woefully behind both the rest of the country and the world in indicators of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Beginning in 2005, however, Baloch women have become increasingly prominent in both the peaceful and violent components of the most recent insurgency. Drawing upon interviews with a select group of Baloch activists, this study argues that the increasing prominence of female activists in Baloch public life has—paradoxically—been driven largely by repressive activities of the Pakistani state. Through the widespread practice of using “forced disappearances” against Baloch males, particularly to supress the fifth insurgency in the province, the military apparatus has effectively forced many women into active public roles that clash with the image of Baluchistan as a patriarchal society. While the fate of the province remains unclear, this study argues that these trends suggest the potential for armed conflict to unintentionally drive change in gender roles.
Second semester University: Lund University
Pakistan, women rights, social movement, activists