Government of Sindh is not interested to empowering peasants and rural workers in Sindh, said Hari Welfare Association
The participants of a policy dialogue expressed deep concern over the government’s apparent disregard for the rights and well-being of sharecroppers, landless peasants, and rural workers across all sectors of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries in Sindh. This significant discussion was orchestrated by the Hari Welfare Association (HWA).
Akram Ali Khaskheli, the President of HWA, highlighted that although Sindh has introduced several laws aimed at protecting the rights of peasants and rural workers, their effective enforcement remains elusive due to the lack of practical implementation mechanisms at the grassroots level. Notable among these legislations are the Sindh Tenancy Act of 1955, the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition Act of 2015, the Sindh Agriculture Worker Women Act of 2019, and the Sindh Industrial Relation Act of 2013. Unfortunately, these laws have largely remained dormant in terms of actual execution by the government. Consequently, a large majority of peasants, particularly sharecroppers and rural workers, continue to grapple with dire poverty, crippling debt bondage, and persistent malnutrition.
Khaskheli further underscored that although the District Vigilance Committees responsible for overseeing the enforcement of the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition Act have been established and notified in 19 out of the 29 districts of Sindh, they remain dysfunctional. The lack of seriousness on the part of both the provincial government and district administrations is evident, as neither entity has allocated the necessary funds to ensure the operational effectiveness of these vigilance committees.
Yaseen Morojo PHD scholar and lecturer of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University (SBBU) said that rural women are marginalized and deprived from their basic rights, there is no health and safety measure and awareness for cotton picker women, they are paid less than minimum wages which against minimum wage policy, literacy ratio in rural women is very low, hence there is dire need to educate girls.
A peasants women Haleema Kolhi said that we are living in miserable conditions, we don’t have pace of land to reside, she further said that there is no transparent and proper accounting system of crop expenditure and income, landlords putting unnecessary and extra charges on fertilizer, pesticide and seeds hence we are getting in debt bondage, she said that we are producing wheat but now we facing hunger, we are producing cotton but our children are living without cloths.
The policy dialogue witnessed the active participation of rural women and esteemed leaders representing various peasant unions from across Sindh. The event provided an invaluable opportunity for these stakeholders to voice their concerns, share insights, and exchange experiences related to the multifaceted challenges affecting peasants and rural workers in the region. Discussions were marked by the heartfelt testimonies of rural women, shedding light on the integral role they play in agriculture, livestock management, and the overall socioeconomic fabric of rural areas. The leaders of peasant unions brought to the forefront the struggles surrounding land rights, access to resources, fair labor practices, and the need for sustainable agricultural models.
The participants strongly advocated for the implementation of laws through the establishment of localized mechanisms. These mechanisms are crucial to ensure the equitable dispensation of justice and the protection of rights for impoverished peasants and rural workers who often find themselves marginalized by powerful landlords, contractors, and influential groups such as the agriculture input selling mafias.