Islamabad: Pakistani Taliban fighters cut the breasts of a woman who was breastfeeding her child and asked other women to eat the pieces, in a gory incident highlighted in a new report that details the abuse of women in the militancy-hit tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
   
The incident occurred when five militants walked into a house and saw the woman breastfeeding her child.

The report, released by the human rights organization "Khwendo Kor" (Sisters' Home in Pashto) with financial support from the UN, is based on case studies of women from the tribal belt living in camps set up in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for people displaced by militancy and military operations.
   
Women in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas are more susceptible to violence and abuse in a post-conflict scenario, whether or not they are part of the conflict, the report says.
   
Another revelation is that women in relief camps were forced to have sex in exchange for food and non-food items.
   
Girls and widows were at greater risk of such abuse, it said.
   
"A security officer forced me to have sex in exchange for cooking oil and pulses when I was collecting food at the main entrance of the camp," a 22-year-old woman in Jalozai camp is quoted as saying.
   
The surveys conducted at relief camps at Nahqai and Jalozai showed that women were uncomfortable going to toilets because there was little privacy as men constantly lurked around.
   
The report said there was an increase in "honour killings" in which women who were raped were murdered because and rape was considered a disgrace to the family.
   
Forced marriages, honour killings, exchange of women between tribes and marriages with first cousins resulting in disabilities among the offspring have made women in the tribal areas increasingly dependent.
   
The role of women in society too has decreased from 39 percent to 19 percent, according to the report.
   
Akhunzada Chattan, a parliamentarian from Bajaur tribal region, said certain rituals practiced with the veneration of religion have deprived women of their rights.
   
"In Bajaur... usury is not something against which the cleric will stand up, but if a woman demands her share of property she is stigmatised as culturally blasphemous," he said.

Changes to the controversial Frontier Crimes Regulation have not significantly helped in improving the situation.
   
Women still have to go to a jirga or tribal council to seek justice.
   
"Women in FATA cannot directly appeal to any court of law," Chattan said.
   
Maryam Bibi, the woman behind the report, said the findings are based on ground realities.
   
"Although it is hard to digest the facts, this is what the women have to go through. Someone has to speak for change," she said.

(Agencies)