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????
originally written for http://islamabad.metblogs.com