Women forced to stay in flooded Rojhan village

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The 400 residents of Basti Ahmad Din, a tiny Punjab village left surrounded by floodwater after torrential monsoon rains, are facing starvation and disease, but they have refused requests from the authorities to evacuate.

Leaving for a relief camp would mean the women of the village mingling with men outside their families, residents reporters, and that would violate their “honour”. The women of Basti Ahmad Din do not get a say.

“It is up to the village elders to decide,” said Shireen Bibi, 17, when asked if she would prefer to go to the safety of a camp on dry land. Catastrophic monsoon rains blamed on climate change have left vast swathes of Pakistan under water this summer, with villagers such as those in Basti Ahmad Din grappling with the destruction of their homes and livelihoods.

More than half of the 90 homes in Basti Ahmad Din, located in the Rojhan area of Punjab, have been destroyed.

The cotton crops that surrounded the village when the rains started in June are now rotting in flooded fields, and the dirt road that once connected to the nearest city is under three metres (10 feet) of water. Rickety wooden rowboats are the only way for villagers to head out to purchase food and supplies.

They are also expensive, with their operators charging fares far higher than normal. Basti Ahmad Din’s families have worryingly low amounts of food left, and they have decided to pool and ration whatever wheat and grain they managed to salvage after the rains.

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