April 14 - A 50 year old uneducated Pakistani woman rises above the fray to run in local elections, becoming an inspiration to the country's poor underclass. Julie Noce reports.
Veero Kolhi sweeps her modest mud house in Pakistan's Sindh province.... work she used to do for someone else. Kolhi spent most of her life as a bonded labourer- working for a landlord to pay off debts- a practice akin to modern day serfdom. But since escaping from her landlord about 20 years ago, Kohli has set her sights on bigger accomplishments... politics. Last week she filed a request, and was granted permission, to run as a candidate for her local provincial assembly. Her aim, to draw attention to the plight of the country's some 8 million bonded labourers. (SOUNDBITE) (Sindhi) WOMAN JOINING ELECTION RACE VEERO KOHLI, SAYING: "I was a bonded labourer myself. I know what kind of tyranny they face. That is why I have decided to stand in the elections. People are approving that a peasant woman who has got freedom from bonded labour is standing in the elections, they are appreciating it." Villagers in Azad Nagar, most of whom are themselves former bonded labourers, say Kohli's story has inspired them to take a stand. This woman became an activist like Kohli after learning she has legal rights against her former violent landlord. And while Kohli is not expected to win an assembly seat, her campaign against the illegal but rampant practice has certainly resonated with the community.