Working Women and Accommodation Problem

If you are a single working woman and you have taken up the bold decision of working in another city like Islamabad – please beware, you are going to encounter innumerable problems. However, one problem which you are going to face for sure is that of finding a reasonable accommodation. Yes, finding an accommodation in Islamabad is not going to be an easy task because the options available are limited for us ‘ working women’.

The first option before you is of staying with relatives if you have got the nerves to bear their objections and criticism with patience. This option is not a very practical one because your relatives can assume the role of your “guardians” since you are living with them and can simply ignore your own ‘privacy’ . The second option is of finding an independent flat or a portion if your pocket allows you to do so. However, my experience suggests that finding a flat or a portion for a single working woman is not an easy task. The house / flat owners will refuse to open their house for ‘inspection’ for you because they had some ‘bad’ experiences with earlier women tenants and they had observed some ‘objectionable movements’. In addition, the house/flat owners would also try to judge you by your overall appearance. They will straightforwardly refuse to take you as their tenant if you look ‘modern’ in any way.

The third option is of living in a hostel. Unfortunately, there are only three working women hostels opened by the government in Islamabad. Two of these government run working women hostels are only open for government employees. The third one, Nusrat Hostel is open to women working in private sector nevertheless it is not easy to get a room in Nusrat Hostel and you should have some “ tagri sifarish” if you want to get a place there.  The women workforce employed in the private sector is left with no option other than that of living in one of those un-registered private hostels which are opened up like wild mushrooms in every nook and corner of the capital city without any sort of check by the government.

The trend which has been observed as far as these private hostels are concerned is that the houses in which these hostels are opened up are not owned by the hostel owners but rather are rented ones and therefore the hostel owner will not pay any attention to the maintenance and cleanliness no matter how much you complain about it . You will be shown your way out of the hostel if you complain ‘ a little’ ‘ about the cleanliness to the hostel owners. As I said earlier that the hostel owners themselves are somebody else tenants therefore you should not expect a longer stay in any such hostel. Any hot argument between hostel owner and the real owner would result in hostel owner moving to some other locality and you hunting for another place you for yourself.

The rent of these private hostels could range from 6000-10,000 Rs on sharing basis and most of the time you will be sharing one small room with three or four other women. There is no guarantee that the room would be properly ventilated and the furniture (the only furniture available in most of these private hostels is bed and a closet) in not broken. If you want to get a single room in such a hostel then the rent could range from 16,000-32,000 Rs. You would not be allowed to cook in the hostel but would have to eat the hostel mess which normally comprises “daals and daals and vegetables full of spices” a sure guarantee that you eat less and therefore you are not going to put on extra weight as long as you are going to stay there.

In addition, to make your stay more exciting and entertaining for you and others,  from cook to the hostel owner, every one in the hostel would spread baseless gossips and rumours about you among other hostel tenants in order to keep their level of general knowledge updated about you. These gossips could be “Iss ney khufia shadi ker rakhi hey or apnay ghar waloon sey chup ker hostel mein reh rahi hey (she has married without her parent’s consent and that’s why she is living in this hostel), yeh dhanda kerti hey (she is a prostitute) so on and so forth.

It is ironic that working women, who are making every effort to be productive to their country, go through so many problems in Islamabad where unaccountable amount of money is being spent on providing security to VVIPs.   The unavailability of reasonable accommodation can effect mental well being of working women and their performance in their work place.  I wonder, why our government does not take concrete steps as far as provision of reasonable accommodation for working women is concerned? Yes, Why????

9 Comments so far

  1. sufiblade on July 29th, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

    I can’t believe you’re pinning THIS on the government. Has the government taken any steps in controlling the outrageous rentals everywhere? Or the ridiculous car prices for used cars? People are so….whats the word….They will leave their property unoccupied but will not rent it at a lower and reasonable rate. Khair, there are pros and cons to moving to any city :)


  2. sufiblade on July 29th, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

    Btw, my family also runs a hostel and most of the girls deserve what they’re given! :)


  3. Adnan Hashmi (adnanhashmi) on July 30th, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

    The criticism in this post is not well-founded. Working women are not the only ones affected. I tried to move to Islamabad in 2005, and had to face the same kind of problems; mainly landlords not willing to rent the house/apartment out to a ‘single’ guy because of some bad experiences. In some cases, landlords even demanded that they would rent the property out only after they have met my family in person. However, having said that, Islamabad is still a lot better in terms of security and quality of life when you compare it with other cities in the motherland.


  4. Rehmat Yazdani (d1a3n0i4) on July 31st, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

    @ sufiblade, Well yes I am pinning this on the government because under the “Gender Reform Action Plan” it is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan to provide a conducive environment for working women – that embodies a commitment the government of Pakistan made by signing the “Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women” ( CEDAW) as well as the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR):-). Due to the idleness of our government (in past and present), according to my opinion, the responsibility lies to a great extent on us as well. How many of us question our elected representatives and why the hell were we electing them again when we have already experienced that they are not gonna do anything….

    and regarding your statement “my family also runs a hostel and most of the girls deserve what they’re given” well, I hope you are saying it in a positive way and Its not the same old male chauvinistic statement :-) what we women deserve is respect and right to live with dignity as is enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan…

    @ adnanhashmi – well, your critique (“not well founded”) passes the described issue without even touching it. I am focusing on the accommodation problems faced by working WOMEN like me. The purpose of writing this post is to highlight what WOMEN have to go through while finding a reasonable accommodation. I’ve talked to a fair number of working women in order to write this post :-) I am not comparing the accommodation problems faced by working women with that of working men – Well, yes men could also face problems but we need to look into the ratio of problems faced by men to that of women :-) and then we can decide about who suffers more, but I am sure you would be aware of one thing women go through a lot in this country as compared to men.


  5. wkhang on August 1st, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

    RWP is the nearest if not possible in Isb, I have sean numbers of hostels in S.Town F Block, so why worried ?


  6. sufiblade on August 3rd, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

    Oh I just said what I said because that is fairly naive to expect the government here to do anything like this. And everyone faces the same problem in Islamabad. If you are a couple with small children, then its a possible problem. If you are a couple and the wife doesn’t work, it’s a problem. Maybe the landlord wants his house to go ‘unused’ as much as possible. I take it you’ve spent a fair lot of time abroad.


  7. hashriani on August 4th, 2009 @ 8:49 am

    I would agree a hundred percent with this post. It is in fact a pretty sad state of affair that things are the way they are. I guess the head honchos or the rather populated male “lame” society do not want women to out power them. As puerile as it sounds. I went through this very ordeal while looking for a place for my friend to stay in when she came to work in Islamabad from Karachi. The nerve that people have is upright appalling.

    Tenant ” Ap ke dost hei?”
    Me ” jee”
    Tenant ” To aap kay ghar kuyun naheen rehtee?”
    Me ” rolls eyes, blank face”
    Tenant ” Shadi shuda nai hei?”
    Me ” Nai”
    Tenant ” Kyun naheen hei? Rishta naheen milla”
    Me “leaves”.

    I also happen to agree with private hostels. As for Wkhang, the living conditions of hostels in Islamabad are depleted as it is, and you’re suggesting Rawalpindi?! “lol”.

    Instead of spending money on planing palm trees to enhance the beauty of an already destroyed city, if the Government of Pakistan takes that very money to spend on places to live for working women and men alike. It would be a welcome sign. But then again, would they? or would they not?.


  8. crazymonkey on August 6th, 2009 @ 9:41 am

    I don’t understand why the government isn’t doing anything about the ridiculous rents of portions in the capital. Since there are a lot of people in Islamabad who have come from other cities, it would be very ‘nice’ if the government would set up some kind of plan to keep a check on the rents.


  9. sufiblade on August 6th, 2009 @ 9:46 am

    We did discuss this with some officials at the monopoly control authority, and they don’t really have any intention of doing this. The way to control this would have been to control the price of the land. People who build a house on land worth 1-2 crore will of course ask over 5lac/year rent



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