PAKISTAN: No let up in violence against women in Sindh, 557 killed during the eleven months of 2011
An article by Abbas Kassar published by the Asian Human Rights Commission
Incidence of violation against women are on rise in Pakistan especially in its Sindh province where they are subjected to various forms of violence including murders under pretext of “family honor” that is called in Sindhi language as Karo Kari( honor killing) kidnapping, rape, acid throwing, sale like animals and giving away in exchange of crimes committed by their family male members. In most cases violence against women is committed on behest of the feudal lords (Jagirdars, sardars and waderas) who are backed by police and state. These feudal lords are made so politically powerful by every successive government in Pakistan that they have set up states within state and state machinery including police and district administrations must back them in their tyrannies or lose their jobs.
Many cases are not reported and in those brought to police affected women are denied justice resulting perpetuating the cycle of violence. Because these very feudal lords manage to be elected to assemblies and taken as ministers, they defend violence against women on basis of centuries old custom to keep women as slaves. Women have no rights or privileges in male dominated and feudally rules society of Sindh.
According to figures collected by this scribe, more than 557 women were killed under honor killing and domestic violence in Sindh in last 11 months of year 2011.83 men were also killed under family honor during this period, bringing total to 640 comparing to 557 in last year which means 83 men and women more were killed indicating the incidents of honor killing on rise. 65 women and 14 men were killed in October 2011, 55 women and 11 men killed in July 2011, 73 women and 8 men in June, 65 women and 17 men in May, 48 women and 12 men in April and 41 women and 12 men in January 2011.
Apart from killing women and men under honor killing the women and girls were also made subject to other violence including their sale and giving them in exchange as Sangg Chati (given in marriage to enemy family) where they have to live the life under humiliation. 17 Incidents of violence against women were committed in first week of December 2011. The killing f Javed Kharal in Larkana by Ghulam Abbas under suspicion of having illicit relations with his wife Shaheen who though ailing was fired upon by husband and injured seriously. The culprit husband also wounded mother of wife. In another incident in Khanpur Saleh Kharal sold his another daughter 14 years Zeenat in Rs.3 lacs (US dollars 330);In Dad Leghari young man Yousuf and Zarina were declared Karo Kari by local landlord in a so called Jirga ( the illegal court) and issued Fatwa to killed them both. Their only crime was that they had married on their own. For a girl and boy to marry without consent of parents is, under feudal custom, crime to be punished with death. 4 girls Sarfaroz, Fahmida, Samina and Rani were kidnapped from Mehar town in Dadu district and 2 of them are sold in sum of Rs.5 lacs by kidnappers who are their close relatives and other 2 killed. In Dera Murad Jamali in Jaccobabad district a man Zahid and girl Saran were killed for marrying on their own. Their dead bodies were thrown in jungle. In same town 8 years Rahiman was gang raped by 8 armed men. In Ghulam Shah in Shikarpur district Saeedo Mehar was imposed fine of Rs.5 lacs and Sangg Chati of his 9 year old daughter who was married on same day to old man.In Khairpur the home town of Sindh Chief Minister Sharif Rajput killed his wife Rehana for reason that she had delayed in baking bread for him. In 2 cases in Adilpur and Jongal 2 girls Hafizan and Sadori were taken by Sardars to their Haveli while boys Ayaz and other who had married the girls on their own were killed or orders of Sardar.
There have been hundreds of reports of honor killing of women in Afghanistan, Iran, India, Bangladesh, West Bank of Israel and Jordan but Pakistan tops among them all. Where the concept of women as an object or commodity isdeeply rooted in the tribal culture.
In Pakistan women are considered property of the males in their family and, like
livestock or property, they have monetary value. Women are almost always married by
arrangement between families. The tribal customs dictate the property is to be kept
within the family so girls are often married to cousins or close relatives almost in exchange of a girl from groom family for may be old male if young is not available in bride’s family. Sometimes daughters, even unborn granddaughters, are exchanged to obtain new wives
for males.Women are seen to embody the honour of the men to whom they belong. The culture casts the males as the sole protector of the female so he must have total control over her.
Men feel honor to kill his family female under what is called in local languages as 'ghairat' or honour on coming to know of her illicit relations with any man. Women in rural villages are not allowed to talk to any man outside family and are also not allowed to go out of home without escort of men even not to hospital as in that case the 'izzat' or standing of man in society will be diminished. Such woman is declared as Kari meaning she brought disgrace to family and must be killed. A man who kills for reason of honour is 'ghairatmand' , both morally and legally supported by his tribesmen.
After the women are killed their bodies are often thrown into rivers or buried in hidden graveyards. No one is permitted to express grief or pray for them. The Sardar of the area chairs Jirga ( illegal court) which decides the penalty on Karo mostly the fine amount which is taken away by Sardar and “Sangg Chati” penalty of any women or girl ( may be minor one)
There are many cases of fake honour killings where rumours about a daughter or wife are circulated so that they can be killed just to obtain blood money or a new wife. Under Qisas and Diyat law promulgated by military ruler Gen. Ziaul Haq the family of the victim is allowed to pardon the perpetrator for receiving blood money. In many instances ''honour'' is used as an excuse to perpetrate crimes that stem from inter-family, land, and personal disputes. Government of Pakistan has passed few acts including Protection of Women Act yet the practice of honor killing not only continues but it is on rise by every passing month.
8548 cases of violence against women were reported including 683 honor killing, 604 suicide, 1987 kidnapping, sexual harassment 274 and acid throwing 27 in 2009 while in 2010 there were 8000 incidents of violations against women with 5295 in Punjab and 1652 in Sindh, 650 in KP, 79 in Balochistan and 127 in Islamabad. 2236 women were kidnapped 1436 killed, 486 of domestic violence and 633 had committed suicide after being weary of the miserable life. 557 women were killed under honor killing while 928 were gang raped. More than 100 incident occurred of sexual harassment and acid throwing.
The figures from Islamabad are alarming given the smaller population and high security maintained in the capital. Of the total incidents of 8000 in Pakistan , 2236 women were abducted; 1436 women were murdered and 557 were killed in the name of ‘ honour’ killing; 928 women were raped; 633 women committed suicide; 32 women were made victim of acid attacks and 38 women were target of stove burning. 1 This is a grim reminder that evil social practices persist, such as the fact that several women were exchanged like cattle to settle disputes adjudicated by illegal jirgas, or hundreds were killed on the pretext of so-called 'honour'.
Sindh being ruled de facto by politically powerful Sardars and Jagirdars where the authorities were silent and get the issue taken for granted. Due to which in almost all districts of Sindh the cases of killing women under Karo Kari, rape, gang rape, torture, domestic violence and child marriages are happening. On the occasion of world human right day the leader of Women Action Forum and women activists professor Amar Sindhu,Arfana Mallah, Haseen Shah Musrat,Nasreen Shakeel Pathan, Zahida Detho, Ms. Gulani as well as the human rights activists Dr. Sarwan Kumar, advocate Aslam Rana, advocate bhagwandas, Dr. Ashothama (HRCP),Dr. Hyder (GRDO), Taj Mari, Ramzan Memon, former first secretary of Communist Party of Pakistan Jam Saqi and others have slated apathy and indifferent attitude of state to curb incidents of violation against women including honor killing and to bring the perpetrators to book and have demanded to implement laws and international
conventions for protection of women and according them the status equal to men. They demanded cases of rape be tried in special courts. They lashed out at Jirga system and said if the feudal lords and Jagirdars were to decide fate of women victims then how they can get justice. They also deplored that the state has failed to implement the provisions of law which was passed to bust the attempts of sexual harassment of women in work places.
The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.
About the Author:
Abbas Kassar is working with Pakistan Christian Post of USA. He can be approached at email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org