Article 25A of the Pakistan Constitution states, "The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law." While reading this, I pondered over the reality of the article and to what extent this has been implemented. Not to my surprise, the results were devastating.
This short writing will discuss Hindu girls' education in interior Sindh and elaborate on the causes that hinder their fundamental right to education.
Hindus constitute 4.5 million of Pakistan's population, and 96% of this population resides in rural areas of Sindh, especially Tharparkar. Like any other suppressed minority in Pakistan, this community lacks fundamental rights support. To narrow the discussion to education sector, only 1.5% of girls out of the Hindu population in Sindh receive primary education, while the ratio to higher-level studies is 0.8%. Numerous causes were observed for this; According to the Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement Survey (PSLM) 2012, economic instability is one of the main reasons hindering education rights from Hindu women of Sindh. Being the lower-class economic population of Pakistan, this community, specifically those from tharparkar, do not get equal employment opportunities, and primarily people there work on daily wages to meet their needs.
Moreover, when there comes a question about education, parents raise their voices regarding feeding their children or educating them, and nevertheless, human priority shifts towards hunger. Moreover, the shifting paradigm in globalization has increased women's participation in markets. So there, Hindu girls are in rural Sindh to meet their family needs, which impedes their right to education.
Secondly, the state's failure to provide and protect minority rights in Pakistan has resulted in significant distress among the Hindu community as they face forced conversion of their sisters and daughters and cannot seek legal support. To elaborate, the ongoing socio-cultural context of forced conversions of Hindu girls has also diverted officials' attention from Hindu women's educational rights. Lastly, there is a lack of awareness regarding fundamental rights among this gender group, which further adds to the hindrance of bringing the topic to discussion.
To conclude, we observed that Pakistan, as a democratic state promises to provide fundamental educational rights to its citizens irrespective of their ethnicity or cast. However, the default counts in economic and socio-cultural aspects, where the state must interfere and indulge in implementing minority rights. UN report 2022 suggests that social media can significantly spread awareness regarding the issue in related communities, which could be implemented by keeping certain assumptions of accessibility in mind.
Note:*Picture taken from Dawn Article.