Mosques used to discourage women from going to the polls.
Women were stopped from voting in Pakistan’s elections on Saturday in the North Waziristan tribal agency, a notorious Taliban stronghold, residents said.
Tribesmen were informed through mosque loudspeakers early Saturday that no woman would be allowed to leave home and cast a vote, according to a local resident in North Waziristan’s main town of Miranshah, where many women live in purdah, confined to women-only quarters at home, and prevented from leaving the premises without a male relative.
On Wednesday, pamphlets in Miranshah warned tribesmen not to let women vote in Saturday’s general elections, and threatened punishment for those who did. “Take our words, this kind of disgraceful act will not be tolerated and anyone influencing women to cast a vote will be punished,” said the pamphlet, signed by “Mujahideen” and thrown from vehicles into shops.
Women’s turnout was weak in the most conservative, rural parts of Pakistan at the last elections in 2008, particularly the tribal agencies and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. Of the 86.2 million registered voters in Pakistan for Saturday’s elections, some 37 million are women and 48 million men.
In 2008, not a single vote was cast at 564 of 28,800 women’s polling stations—55 percent of them in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, officials said. In the most conservative areas, officials estimated women’s turnout at just 10 to 15 percent of those registered.