New Darul Aman facilities in KP

From time to time, the KP government keeps announcing various plans meant for the welfare of women. On August 24, CM Mahmood Khan gave approval for the setting up of Darul Aman buildings in the districts of Dera Ismail Khan, Nowshera, Swabi and Buner. In a briefing, it was stated that at present as many as eight Darul Aman offices were already functional in the province. At the same time, the Darul Aman established in Kohat was being upgraded. Similarly, the work on an under-construction Darul Aman was going on in Lower Dir.

On paper, the idea of a Darul Aman appears good. The Arabic-sounding name Darul Aman literally means a house where a female feels safe. The social setup in KP is slightly different from other provinces. Living in a man-dominated patriarchal society, a woman is normally supposed to be obedient to her father, brother and husband. In case of any disobedience, she can lose the rights enshrined in the constitution. Even the parents can turn her out of the ancestral home. This is where the help comes from the social welfare department and its Darul Aman facilities.

In theory, a Darul Aman is the best thing at the district level. In practice, however, the same facility can sometimes prove to be the worst. One is not necessarily denying the usefulness of this facility. But the social welfare department can hardly claim that all its employees happen to be pious and angel-like. The same is true about the administrators of the Darul Aman facilities. Stories are still fresh in human memory of how badly the Darul Aman located in Hashtnagri, Peshawar, was run. People have not yet forgotten that a few years ago a married woman from Peshawar was gunned down in a well-guarded Darul Aman in Gulberg, Lahore. The facility was run by eminent lawyer Hina Jilani (the sister of Asma Jehangir).