In Bajaur Agency, one of seven tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan, very few girls go to school due to threats by the Taliban.

“When I hired a tutor so my two older daughters could keep up their learning at home, I began receiving threats,” explained Salim Jan from Khar, the agency’s main town. He is in a quandary about whether to leave. “The militants are still here despite the military’s claims [ ] of victory in 2010,” he said.

Many girls in 2009-10 were forced to join seminaries due to fear of the Taliban.

“Not a single girl got admission to ninth class in Bajaur, FR [Frontier Region] Kohat and FR Lakki Marwat during 2009-10 due to Taliban threats,” and no girls went to college in Bajaur, FR Lakki Marwat or FR Peshawar either.

Opposition by the Taliban to girls` education, propaganda against it through illegal FM radio channels, threats and the declaring of girls` education a “vulgarity” and un-Islamic, were preventing parents from sending their daughters to schools.

Zuleikha Bibi, resident of a village near the town of Wana, said that she had heard of women being mutilated by militants, for “offences” such as venturing outdoors without a male escort.

“You who live outside the tribal areas cannot imagine what fear we women live in,” she said. “Here, in South Waziristan, there have been cases of Taliban bursting into homes to `check’ on women’s morality. My teenage cousin had her hair chopped off because her head was not properly covered, just a few months back.”

Living in terror
Despite the official stance that the Taliban have been defeated, they remain present in remote areas. Women live in terror and have told me their stories of exploitation, harassment or other forms of terrible violence by militants. Militants sliced off the breasts of a mother feeding her baby inside her home for venturing out.

“I have met displaced women who were asked by security staff at camps for sexual favours in exchange for food,” one activist said. She said women also lived in terror in settled areas with Taliban domination, such as Tank District in Khyber Paktoonkhwa Province.

The plight of these women is terrible. It will change only if male mindsets can be altered.

Asia Bibi, 19, who now lives in Peshawar with her family, said: “Every woman in our home agency of Mohmand lives in constant terror. The fear of being humiliated when we step out on the roads, even if we are covered from head to foot, is demeaning, and violence against women is common – not only by militants but also other relatives.”

Diplaced and vulnerable
Involuntary displacement can expose women and girls to a range of factors which may put them at risk of further violations of their rights,” it said. In Swat, women continue to face many difficulties, including a lack of access to education and a lack of mobility even a year after the conflict in the area ended.

In crises situations, women are among the most vulnerable. During both relief and early recovery, women and children tend to be affected in very different ways from men.

FATA are some of the least developed areas of the country, according to official figures, with the literacy rate for women standing at barely 3 percent.