A Historic First

Elected to the Senate on a reserved seat for women from Sindh, Krishna Kumari Kolhi is a member of the Pakistan People’s Party. Kumari’s win is a historic first where a major political party has awarded a ticket to a minority person, who actually went on to become the first senator from a Hindu, Dalit background in the country. This is perhaps an indicator of the gradual shift towards greater minority representation in government bodies. The inclusion of a woman with a diverse background such as hers is also a potential move towards the greater integration of religious minorities in the social strata of the society.

Her Story Is No Less Than a Heroic Tale of Resilience Against All Odds.

There’s more to her story that paints a strong picture of determination and willpower. She is a human rights activist belonging to the Kolhi community in the remote village of Dhana Gam, Nagarparkar. Kolhi had a difficult childhood. As a child, she and her family were imprisoned in a bonded labor jail, which is said to be owned by the landlord of Kunri of Umerkot district. A police raid eventually set them free.

The district of Nagarparkar

Through Hardships, Krishna Persevered. Neither She nor Her Family Gave up on Her Education.

They supported her like a rock in her academic pursuits, gradually helping her attain a Master’s degree in Sociology after her marriage. Today, she attributes her success to them. In 2005, she started taking part in activities for social causes by organizing seminars herself in Tharparkar. Not surprisingly, in 2007, she was selected for the third Mehergarh Human Rights Youth Leadership Training Camp. After her training, she started working with the Youth Civil Action Progr­amme to identify cases of bonded labor. She conducted case studies focusing on women under bondage. Krishna also organized workshops and seminars on bonded labour, workplace sexual harassment, and other human and women’s rights issues. She also contributed write-ups on these topics to various newspapers.

Krishna Kumari Kohli
Krishna Kumari Kolhi working in her office in Hyderabad. Source: Al Jazeera

“I will continue to work for the rights of the oppressed people, especially for the empowerment of women, their health, and education,” she says.

Krishna Kumari also hails from the family of the valiant freedom fighter Rooplo Kolhi, who waged a war against the invading British colonialist forces when they attacked Sindh from Nagarparkar side in 1857. Subsequently, he was arrested and hanged by the British on August 22, 1858. It is no wonder that the struggle for human rights activism seems to run in her blood.

A young girl who once worked in the fields with her parents and suffered at the hands of the generational, feudal elite of the country, will now take the oath of office this month alongside some of the biggest landowners of the country. It is a cause for celebration. A step to applaud PPP for. And, a hope not just for minorities but for people to break from the caste system through such incidences of social mobility as well.

The Pakistani Senate.

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