Statement on the violence against women in Public Spaces in District Kurram

The Women Democratic Front takes note and condemns the coordinated attacks on women in district Kurram, Parachinar, that took place in the months of August and September, due to their presence in public spaces. The claim from state officials that the injured women were fired at from an airgun is deeply troubling, as this demonstrates a clear intention to wound any woman who acts upon her right to mobility. According to the first investigation reports (FIRs), the shootings took place in marketplaces, streets, clinics, hospitals and schools. To shoot women in multiple instances, at busy public spaces is alarming, due to the possibility of the shooter’s disregard for being caught by bystanders, and worse still, the surrounding apathy.
The Women Democratic Front also considers the recent resurfacing of sectarian conflict in the district of Kurram as a correlated issue, and the flaring of relations between the Pakistani state and the Taliban administration of Afghanistan. Therefore, the instances of airgun shootings taking place in a predominantly Shia neighbourhood, the intersection of gender-based violence and communal violence cannot be ignored. The Women Democratic Front calls for an end to the violence meted out particularly on the bodies of women and children and men who do not ascribe to the dominant means of accessing protection by the state – based on class, ethnicity, and religious denomination.
The increased repression on women, after these acts of patriarchal violence, can be seen in social media posts restricting the free movement of women in Kurram.The fact that despite being chaperoned by male relatives, at least three women were shot at by the perpetrator, shows the brutal misogynistic ideals that the shooter is trying to impose: the very presence of women in public spaces – whether or not accompanied by male relatives – would not be tolerated. Additional media reports of how groups of men threaten women, such as school teachers, who are seen in public spaces. The Women Democratic Front is aware of the social ripple effects that are caused by public displays of misogynistic violence. These attacks on women in Kurram are no exception.
Horrific acts of patriarchal violence such as the shooting of women in public spaces that are particularly situated in Shia-dominant quarters are a constituent part of the entanglement of oppression that take place on a daily basis in multiple regions that are politically treated as peripheries by state policies. Despite the multiple military checkposts and CCTV technology in the Kurram district, there has been no action to curb the recent violence on women. This leads the Women Democratic Front to question for what reason, if not the ones already highlighted in this statement, the perpetrator is still at large.