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Tribal Pakistani town bans women from shopping

Ramadan ban imposed because "women spread vulgarity"

Tribal Pakistani town bans women from shopping

File photo: Shutterstock reporter, Peshawar

July 22, 2013

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Muslim clerics unanimously have issued a ruling in northwest Pakistan banning women from visiting bazaars and markets to shop during the ongoing month of Ramadan.

The decision was made by a committee of Islamic clerics in the Karak district of militancy-plagued Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Friday.

Maulana Ibn-e-Ameen, Maulana Mir Zakim, Maulana Abdul Rehman, Mufti Shabir Ahmed, Ghulam Rabbani and others met in Tehsil Karak mosque and decided that women could only go shopping in markets accompanied by close family members.

“It is against local Pakhtun culture and un-Islamic for women to go to bazaars and markets alone,” said Muhammad Mirza Zakim, one of the participants at the meeting. “We have made this decision as women spread vulgarity.”

Zakim added that the clerics would “use force” if women did not follow the decision. Clerics also asked traders and shopkeepers not to serve women.

Ghulam Rabbani, the general secretary of the Karak traders association, endorsed the decision.

“We … will not sell goods to women coming for shopping without an accompanying male family member,” he said.

Female lawmakers and rights campaigners expressed outrage at the decision over the weekend.

Shabina Ayaz, resident director of Aurat Foundation which campaigns for women’s rights, was quoted as saying on, an online news website, that the decision represented a violation of fundamental rights including the right to live according to a person’s own free will.

“The report of Karak women barred from moving without Mahram [unmarriageable kin] is most concerning, the provincial government must act against this violation of law,” Nafisa Shah, a woman legislator, tweeted. 

District administration officials in Karak were not available for comment but Zakim said that the clerics received “informal support” for the decision. It comes a week after the Talban banned men and women from wearing tight clothing in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas during the holy month of Ramadan. 

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