Pakistani clerics ban women from shopping alone in northwest area

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:25am IST

A woman sits with others while waiting her turn to receive fortified food supplements at a centre for malnourished women and children during a visit by Ertharin Cousin (not pictured), the executive director of the World Food Program (WFP) in Baidara in Swat valley June 23, 2013. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files

A woman sits with others while waiting her turn to receive fortified food supplements at a centre for malnourished women and children during a visit by Ertharin Cousin (not pictured), the executive director of the World Food Program (WFP) in Baidara in Swat valley June 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood/Files

Related Topics

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - Clerics in northwest Pakistan have issued a temporary ban on women shopping unless accompanied by a male relative, a police official said on Saturday, in a step designed to keep men from being distracted during the holy month of Ramadan.

Police are supporting the ban, announced over mosque loudspeakers on Friday in Karak district in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, district police official Fazal Hanif told Reuters.

Unaccompanied women will be arrested and shopkeepers may be punished for selling items to women on their own.

One trader said he feared the ban would affect business and damage the region's reputation.

"We never supported this ban and convened a meeting on Wednesday to protest over the clerics' decision," Munwar Khan, one of the merchants in the region, told Reuters.

Vast swathes of rural Pakistan, whose name means "Land of the Pure", are deeply conservative. Thousands of women have been killed in recent years for behaviour their families considered improper.

The mosque announcements said the ban was intended to stop men from being distracted during Ramadan, when Muslims are meant to fast from dawn to sunset. The annual period of fasting and prayer falls in July this year.

The ban was proposed by a faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party led by Fazl-ur-Rehman, local administration official Sarfaraz Khattak said.

Such religious parties have typically performed poorly in Pakistani elections, winning only a handful of seats. But mainstream politicians are often slow to criticise religious leaders, partly for fear of being targeted by their supporters.

Some residents of the area also oppose the ban.

"The male members of the family don't have enough time to take women to the market," said Mohammad Naeem Khattak. "Where can women go for shopping if they are banned in the market?" (Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

FILED UNDER:

Economic Pulse

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Nifty Above 8,600

Nifty Above 8,600

Nifty hits record high above 8,600; state-run lenders gain  Full Article 

Indian in Iraq

Indian in Iraq

India says no contact with 39 men held by Islamic State in Iraq.  Full Article 

Sahara Issue

Sahara Issue

Sahara looks to raise $650 million loan to fund bail.  Full Article 

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal's toxic legacy lives on, 30 years after industrial disaster.  Full Article 

Essar Group

Essar Group

Exclusive - Essar's planned oil-for-steel deal tests Iran sanctions  Full Article 

Islamic Fund

Islamic Fund

India gets new Islamic equity fund but debt market still off-limits  Full Article 

Fiscal Deficit

Fiscal Deficit

April-October fiscal deficit nears 90 pct of full-year target  Full Article 

Oil Prices

Oil Prices

Oil hits new four-year low post OPEC as glut looms  Full Article 

Gold Imports

Gold Imports

India eases gold import rule in surprise move.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage