Pakistani senator Krishna Kumari named in BBC's 100 Women 2018 list

Updated 21 Nov, 2018 09:31am

It's a message to those who believe that Pakistani minorities need not be given their rights, says Kumari

Human rights activist and senator Krishna Kumari has been named in the annual BBC 100 Women list that honours the achievements of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world every year.

39-year-old Krishna belongs to the Kohli community from the remote village of Dhana Gam in Nagarparkar and was elected as senator in March after spending many years working for the rights of bonded labourers in Pakistan. She is the first Thari Hindu woman to be elected to the Pakistan senate.

Speaking to Images about the honour on Tuesday, Kumari said she didn't have the words to express her happiness. "I belong to the Kohli community, which has been suppressed by landlords and forced to worked as slaves since time immemorial. I am very proud to have my efforts honoured by the BBC. I hope it serves as a message to those who believe that minority groups do not need to be given their rights."

She further shared that she's been constantly trying to contact her parents to share the good news but signal issues in their village have prevented her from talking to them.

Kumari's endeavours to end bonded labour in Pakistan are fuelled by her own childhood experience of being forced to work with her family by a landlord in Umerkot for three years before being rescued in a police raid.

After they were released from bonded labour, her parents encouraged her to study, supporting her from primary classes in Umerkot and Mirpurkhas to a postgraduate degree in sociology from the University of Sindh, Jamshoro.

After being trained further in human rights, Krishna worked for the Youth Civil Action Progr­amme to identify cases of bonded labour and conducted case studies focusing women under bondage, organised workshops and seminars on bonded labour, sexual harassment at workplace and other human and women’s rights issues and wrote for various newspapers.

When she was elected to Senate, she vowed to continue working for "the rights of the oppressed people, especially for the empowerment of women, their health and education."