For most women in Pakistan's war-torn and ultra-conservative Khyber region, tribal customs have consumed any notions of them having a say in how they are being governed. Recently however, three women have been recruited to the tribal police in Khyber-for the first time in the country’s history.
These three Christian women were among 15 Christian women applicants for the job- despite the fact that the posts were open to all religions. Officials have also claimed that no Muslim woman had applied.
With the tribal police mainly responsible for controlling local crime and drug smuggling, these women will have the basic job to carry out body searches of women passing the Torkham border crossing, and also help in house raids. The new recruits will undergo three months of basic training before being deployed at Torkham.
A Khyber official has declared this move as ‘a first drop of rain’ and is hopeful that more women, both Muslims and Christians, will apply.
The tribal police force with more than 4,500 personnel assists other security agencies to maintain law and order in the tribal region. Including women in this web, is a good start one that is showing that things are gradually changing. However, one can truly call it a wind of change, once women can be treated as equal individuals – both in hiring and respect.
Pakistan's tribal region in the northwest area of the country is largely overrun by tribal customs and laws, and has had varying degrees of autonomy throughout the country's history. Women from the neglected tribal belt have recently also joined hands with those who are demanding the abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) – the proverbial “black law” that was introduced by the British. Perhaps, women themselves are showing that if they voiced their demand for political rights and their due status in socio-political matters, eventually they will rise prosperous.