Flood survivors suffer in silence

Flood survivors suffer in silence
Flood survivors suffer in silence

PESHAWAR/ LAHORE/ KARACHI:

As flood relief efforts take center stage, essential items requested include tents and dry groceries, but many seemed to have missed that women were also victims.

Young girls and women have also been devastated by the floods and are forced to live in the open, but their current list of needs also includes feminine hygiene products and toilets, which are not part of the conversation about relief items.

Mai Khairan, a 60-year-old flood-affected woman from Rajanpur, pleaded that someone needed to be aware that women have hygiene and medical needs. “We have already lost our homes. Now we have no menstrual products or a place to defecate. It’s a really miserable time for women,” Mai Khairan lamented.

The elderly lady added that the lack of a change of clothes had further exacerbated the crisis. “Although some can survive for a few days, there are also young girls and pregnant women. Someone has to help us. Some 850 kilometers away, in Nowshera, 60-year-old flood victim Hajra Bibi, whose daughter-in-law is pregnant and they live in a makeshift tent, is as upset as Mai Khairan. “There is no food or other facilities, especially for pregnant women. I fear that we will lose our daughter and her baby if this situation persists,” Hajra said in tears. She implored the government to send female doctors to the camps so that the women’s needs are taken care of.

Similarly, Tahira, a pregnant woman living in a camp near Rajanpur, said that in addition to the lack of female doctors, she does not receive enough food, which affects the health of her unborn child. Dr. Ahmad Zaib, commenting on this lack of food, said if pregnant women do not receive food and other supplements like folic acid and calcium, it will be harmful for both mother and child. Besides the lack of food and proper medical examinations, another major problem for women is the lack of covered toilets.

Saima, a Sindh affected woman who had to evacuate her home, said men could defecate wherever they wanted but women desperately needed a safe place. Anees Imran, a volunteer from a social welfare organization working on relief operations, agrees with Saima’s sentiments. She said in her relief efforts, she witnessed that due to the unavailability of covered toilets, women had to go to remote and desolate places to defecate. “When every corner is submerged in water, it becomes a scary situation for women.” A sufferer from Taunsa, Punjab, who declined to be named, is currently going through this agony. “We have no idea where we can go to answer a call from nature, it’s really awful. The government and social organizations must immediately arrange for temporary toilets,” she demanded. Although it remains to be seen when these requests will be processed, Dr Zainab Ibad, who serves at a medical camp in Nowshera, said a delay would be detrimental to women, especially those who are pregnant.

“The most common illness currently among flood-affected women is urinary tract infection.” Apart from infection, Dr. Zainab informed that women are also struggling due to lack of availability of sanitary napkins. “The government must immediately provide women with feminine hygiene products as this has serious repercussions on their health,” the doctor said. Kulsoom Ranjha, who leads women’s relief efforts for a renowned welfare organization, agrees with Dr Zainab, said perhaps no one has yet realized that young girls and women are in a much more precarious situation in the areas affected by the floods. She was of the opinion that more women should come forward to help women affected by the floods.

“Menstruating and pregnant women suffer the most. We are trying to provide a package for women that includes essential medicines, clothing and feminine hygiene products. Women need to come forward and help their sisters,” Kulsoom said when speaking to The Express Grandstand.

. Flood survivors suffer silence

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