The Baloch Women Forum (Samo Raaj), an organization advocating for women’s rights in Balochistan, has elected a new cabinet. Shalee Baloch has been appointed as the organizer, with Hanifa Baloch assuming the role of Deputy Organizer. The new cabinet hopes to continue the struggle for equality in a region challenged by societal issues, including gender-based violence and state oppression.
The Third central cabinet session saw discussions on a broad array of topics, from the organizer’s address and constitution-making to critical discussions on organizational matters, political situations, and future action plans.
Zeen Gul Baloch, the former organizer, expressed confidence in the new cabinet, pinning her hopes on them to become “a more organized and efficiently managed voice for Baloch women in Balochistan.”. She highlighted the multifaceted challenges faced by women in Balochistan, ranging from domestic violence and honour killings to enforced disappearances and a significant number of suicides.
“We live in a modern era, yet it seems like we are in the stone age,” stated Zeen Gul Baloch, drawing attention to the plight of women who have to travel considerable distances to access medical care, often leading to fatal consequences due to the delay. She highlighted the acute shortage of female doctors in the region and expressed critique towards the government’s apparent lack of action in enhancing women’s welfare.
Shalee Baloch, in her inaugural speech as organizer, reaffirmed the forum’s commitment to women’s rights and equality. She pointed out that the BWF is the first women’s organization in Balochistan composed solely of Baloch women, with its primary objective being the establishment of a society premised on equality.
Shalee Baloch drew attention to the struggles faced by Baloch women, stating that they were not only fighting societal issues but were also “fighting for their very survival as human beings.”
She drew parallels to women worldwide, including in Pakistan, who are striving for human equality. Yet, in Balochistan, the challenges are more dire: “Women are not only becoming victims of what is seen as state’s collective punishment but are now also being forcibly disappeared.”
She made a poignant reference to the recent incident with Najma, a case that exposed the horrific atrocities faced by women in Balochistan. She also mentioned the ongoing honor killings in Naseerabad and the incident in Barkhan, which she said underscored Balochistan’s rampant violation of basic human rights. Despite the gravity of these issues, she expressed concern that human rights institutions appear to be overlooking the region’s situation.
In conclusion, Shalee Baloch called on more Baloch women to join the forum to help contribute to Balochistan’s progress. She also appealed to their male counterparts to play a significant role in empowering women, as she stressed that unity was vital for Balochistan’s development.