Islamabad: In a historic first for Pakistan, a Dalit woman from the country’s marginalised Hindu community has been elected to the Senate, the upper house of the parliament. Krishna Kumari Kolhi, a 39-year-old Hindu Dalit woman, was elected senator on a women’s seat from Sindh. She is a member of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
Her election represents a major milestone for women and minority rights in Pakistan. Earlier, PPP had elected first Hindu woman named Ratna Bhagwandas Chawla as a senator. Dalits, too, have been elected on PPP tickets from Sindh in the past but Kolhi is the first woman from the scheduled caste to become a senator.
The first non-Muslim Dalit senator in Pakistan was Dr Khatumal Jeewan. He was also elected by PPP on a general seat in 2009. Engineer Gianchand was the second Dalit to be elected as senator on a general seat by PPP in 2015. Kolhi hails from Nagarparkar village in Tharparkar district of Sindh province, where women are deprived of basic fundamental rights.
Being a victim of bonded labour along with her parents, a common practice in Tharparkar, Kolhi fought hunger and poverty in her early life. She was married to Lalchand at the age of 16, when she was studying in 9th grade. However, she pursued her studies, and in 2013, she did masters in sociology from the Sindh University. “Fortunately my husband and inlaws were extremely supportive and encouraged me to continue my education,” she told a local news channel. “We didn’t have electricity so I used to study with the help of an oil lantern,” she added.
While at university, she actively worked againstbonded labour, sexual harassment at workplaces, and for the rights of women and poor people of her village. “I will not only represent women of Tharparkar but act as a representative for women across the country and speak for their rights,” Krishna said while highlighting child marriages and forced conversions as major issues faced by the people of Tharparkar. “I will struggle for implementation of the laws in constitution drafted for the rights of women. There are laws for rights of women but none of them have been implemented,” she said.
Times of India
© Copyright NewsKarnataka 2019 . All Rights Reserved.