The inhabitants of a remote village in Pakistan who stand just under four-foot and two inches tall are fighting social stigma with hopes of living with dignity.
Karak village in Rawalpindi has over five hundred inhabitants and over a hundred have an average height of just 4ft 2in.
The shortest person in the ‘dwarf village’ is Shabaaz who stands just 2ft.
The villagers face a lot of trouble because of their dwarfism.
They are disconnected from the mainland parts of the country and live among themselves. They are married within known families and most have children also born with the condition.
The children quit education after primary schools and work at eateries where they are given jobs easily as they attract customers.
The villagers are now fighting to reclaim their dignity and provide education to children so they can get respectable jobs.
Saima, 27 and 4ft 2in tall, is a social worker who provides session to children like her using social media.
She said, “In Pakistan, people make fun of dwarves and restrict them to their communities.
“They don’t want us to get education and call us by mean names. People like us already face troubles in day to day lives and our lives becomes worse when we are called by names. Children especially feel bad.
“They do not feel like going to school and live as pariah in their homes because they bullied and made fun of.”
Saima got married a year ago and works in a government organisation.
“We can only grow in life if educated and hence all the children should get educated. Society doesn’t want us to be happy and live like them. Most of children with dwarfism work at eateries and quit schools after primary class. They get jobs because people become happy to see them. But we have to make sure that they go to schools, get education and then dignified jobs,” Saima said.
Like children, the men in the village have to also struggle to find a wife as most are rejected for their height.
“People do not marry their daughters to us and hence we have to find a girl our height. Though there are some women with normal height have also married the men in our village.
“The parents of the girls are scared of marrying them off to men of our height,” said Mansoor Quershi.
The 29-year-old is 4ft tall and runs an NGO to help people find jobs and education for children.
“People here are scared to face the world because of their physical appearance. Some are educated but most have no education qualification and hence they are doing odd jobs,” said Farhad Ali who works as an accountant in the university.
Mr Ali, 33, also 4ft tall, had a love marriage with an average height woman four years ago. He has two children who also born with normal height.
He says that his father gave him the confidence to accept himself and study. He is the only person with dwarfism in his family.
Ali said, “My sisters, brothers and my parents are normal height. Even my kids are normal height. It is God’s given. The parents should let their children study and give them confidence to face the world and accept themselves.”