FOR THE RIGHTS OF FEMALE VICTIMS
OF VIOLENCE IN PAKISTAN
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January 14, 2001
EDITORS NOTE: The following report and digest was compiled for the INRFVVP by Kate DeBusschere and Makesha Koestel. We thank our volunteers for their good work.
BACKGROUND: KARO-KARI CLAIMED 264 LIVES LAST YEAR states an article from the March 24, 2000 edition of DAWN. These honor killings were committed in the province of Sindh in 1999. The article gives the numbers of deaths for each region, and focuses in particular on the illustrative story of Deeba Shaw. Deeba, a 15 year-old-girl and resident of Z-260-A Chenaser Goth, got married to her neighbor, Urs Khaskheli, without the knowledge of her family. A family meeting was called, in which Deeba was named as Kari, and Urs as Karo. Deeba was then shot dead by her family members. Her uncle and cousin were taken into custody. Urs fled after hearing the reports of his wifes murder. Though the article says that 264 lives were taken last year, there were many more that went unreported. Both the HRCP, as well as Amnesty International reported that more than 1,000 lives were, in fact, lost.
In an article entitled ITS TIME TO BURY THE KARO-KARI CUSTOM, by Shahid Ali Seehar appearing in the June 15, 2000 edition of Dawn, the author equates the tradition of karo-kari with the inhumane conditions for women during pre-Islamic Arabia. The author makes the point that Islam is against all forms of gender discrimination. Furthermore, the Quran says the woman is a precious gift from Allah, and is equal to man in every way. The author suggests that the government must play a role in abolishing honor crimes. Early marriages should be legally banned and authorities must be instructed to investigate and prosecute karo-kari murders. Seehar commends General Musharraf on condemning honor crimes as first rate murder, but contends that we must work further to do away with this awful practice.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Over 1000 honor killings take place every year in Pakistan and, in the Punjab alone, at least 700 women are raped each year, as reported in an article of the May 31, 2000 edition of DAWN newspaper,1000 HONOUR KILLINGS EVERY YEAR: REPORT. The article aptly makes the point that this practice of honor killings is unjustified and unacceptable for the people of Pakistan. Women are being killed because they choose to utilize their law-given right to marry whom they wish, and family members supersede the law by murdering them extra judiciously, often by using the horrid method of stove burning. So, those women who are not killed by the assailant (often a close relative, such as a father, spouse, brother, or in-law), are most often disfigured and sentenced to a life of suffering and estrangement.
The Womens Action Forum (WAF) says it is not willing to stand by any longer while this inhumane practice continues to plague their nation. The WAF is reported as stating, Undoubtedly, this violence and harshness against women is due becoming increasingly brutal, exploitative and harsh of our society, as well as womens subhuman status. This is in spite of the fact that they have equal rights under the constitution of Pakistan.
The article also highlights the story of Shaheen Akhter, an unfortunate fifteen-year-old girl who was raped and then imprisoned for her so-called crime. However, her rapists were not arrested. While in prison she contracted tuberculosis and was denied health care. She died of tuberculosis in prison while in fetters, which were outlawed as inhumane by General Musharraf before her arrest. Prison conditions, and the treatment of inmates are exceedingly inhumane. Women are subject to sexual abuse, torture, and all forms of maltreatment by their wardens and others when imprisoned. (NOTE: THE STORY OF SHAHEEN AKHTAR HAS BEEN COVERED BY THE INRFVVP IN DETAIL IN ITS POSTINGS)
All consensual extramarital sexual relations are considered violations of the Hudood Ordinances, which carry either Hadd (Koranic) or Tazir (secular) punishments. Accordingly, if a woman cannot prove the absence of consent, there is a risk that she may be charged with a violation of the Hudood ordinances for fornication or adultery.
Rape is an extensive problem. The HRCP estimates that at least eight women, five of them minors, are raped every day in Pakistan, and more than two-thirds of those are gang-raped. In 1997 the National Assembly passed a law that provided for the death penalty for persons convicted of gang rape. No executions have been carried out under this law and conviction rates remained low. This is because rape, and gang rape in particular, is commonly used as a means of social control by landlords and local criminal bosses seeking to humiliate and terrorize local residents. Therefore, police rarely respond to and are sometimes implicated in these attacks. It is estimated that less than one-third of all rapes are reported to the police. The police themselves frequently are charged with raping women. Affairs Minister Muhammad Yasin Khan Wattoo informed the Senate on April 28 that in the first 90 days of the year 472 women reported that they were raped. The HRCP in the first 9 months of the year tallied 485 rape cases recorded in Lahore newspapers. Of these instances, cases were registered in 74 percent of the rapes but suspects were arrested in only 10 percent. More than 50 percent involved gang rape. According to a police official, in a majority of rape cases the victims are pressured to drop rape charges because of the threat of Hudood adultery charges being brought against them. (1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Pakistan Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor U.S. Department of State, February 25, 2000)
Another rape case was reported in the article by Ambreen Afshee, which appeared in the May 24, 2000 edition of The NEWS. This article discusses the case of six girls who were gang raped one night on their way home from work. The girls had just finished a 38-hour work shift (yes, thats righta 38-hour work shift), at a factory near Lahore and were returning to their home village on a bus provided by their employer. After leaving G.T. Road at 12:30 a.m., the bus was intercepted by five men who tied up the male passengers of the bus, and proceeded to take turns raping the six girls. When the girls returned home and told their families what had happened, they were strongly against registering a report with the police. If they were to take legal action the community was sure to find out what happened, and it would be virtually impossible to marry off the girls. Furthermore, the police station pressured the girls not to file a complaint because it is a heinous crime and tells badly on the record of the police station. An FIR was registered for criminal intimidation and outraging the modesty of women (u/s 506 and 354).
A similar incident happened at Ferozewala, as reported in VICTIMS OF SOCIAL INJUSTICE, by Riaz Missen, July 9, 2000, in The NATION. Seven female factory workers were beaten up and humiliated by five men. What they were advised by the notables of the locality was to keep mum over the incident. They were told they would receive nothing but more humiliation and loss of self-respect if they were to go public with the incident. The author states, Women in our society are victims of poverty, ignorance, and male chauvinism. They demand, protest and finally, lose hope and kill themselves. The author uses examples such as karo-kari to illustrate the social injustices that Pakistani women have no choice but to face.
CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN MAY TO SEPTEMBER,
2000 EDITORS NOTE: The above information, as well as the following crime reports are derived from various Pakistani news publications. INRFVVP thanks all those friends and members from whom we received our clippings. Though these crime reports are quite revealing of the types of crimes and circumstances in which these crimes happen, however the number of the reports are in no way representative of the real number. It is the considered opinion of a number of human rights agencies, including the INRFVVP, that, in fact, thousands of murders and other violent crimes against women in the name of honor go unreported each year.
WOMAN KILLED, FOUR WOUNDED OVER KARO-KARI?, DAWN, May 23, 2000
Dadu, May 22: A woman died and four other persons received wounds over karo-kari in Piaro Goth town, some 25km away from here, on Monday morning. Mumtaz, alias Mitho, and Ghulam Hussain Machhi allegedly broke into the house of Ali Hassan Khoso and opened indiscriminate fire, killing a 55-year-old woman on the spot under the pretext of karo-kari. The woman, who had been married, Ali Hassan Khoso 28 years ago, was said to be the relative of the assailants. They also kidnapped her husband. Seeing that a police team was approaching the house, the assailants shot and wounded Ali Hassan Khoso and a policeman, Liaquat Hingoro. The police team retaliated the attack and fired upon them. As a result, the attackers received wounds. The injured were taken to Civil Hospital, Dadu, in police custody. The Rukkan police registered the case against the accused on the complaint of Ali Khoso, and were investigating the matter.
TWO WOMEN, MAN SHOT DEAD OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, June 4, 2000
Sukkur, June 3: Two women and a man were killed over karo-kari in Kandhkot and Nawabshah town on Saturday. Ali Nawaz Sundrani, with his accomplice, fired upon his wife, Saidal, and Mehboob Sudrani in his house in Kandhkot. As a result, both the woman and the man died upon the spot. Later, police arrested the assailant, who told them that he had killed his wife and Mehboob Sudrani because they had established illicit relations with each other. Meanwhile, a married woman was killed by her brother under the pretext of karo-kari in a village of Nawabshah town. Reports our correspondent from Nawabshah, Hussain Bukhsh Chandio, who was reportedly suspicious of his sisters character, shot dead his sister, Mittan, age 35, in the Dehu Nasrat village. The alleged killer surrendered himself to the Bandhi police, who registered a case against him. A woman Allah Bachai, wife of Moharram Kalhoro was gunned down by her brother-in-law, Yaseen Machi, in Jeevan village, near Moro, on Friday.
FOUR WOMEN AMONG FIVE KILLED OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, June 12, 2000
Lakarana, June 11: Five people, including four women, were gunned down in the Thambo taluka of Dra Murad Jamali under the pretext of karo-kari late Saturday night. Ghaus Bukush Rind fired upon his wife, Khairan, and Safar Khan Lashari, son of Rasool Bakhsh Lashari, after he allegedly saw them in an objectionable condition in his house. As a result, his wife and Lashari died on the spot. Later, the alleged killer, with his brother, Jumma, broke into the house of Lashari, and shot dead his two daughters, Amina and Zeba, and a daughter of Shahzado, Sadoran. When this scribe talked to the tehsildar of Majoshoro, AbdulWahid Rind, on the telephone late Sunday night, he confirmed that five people had been murdered. The deceased were the residents of the Roopa Shakh village. Police registered an FIR against the assailants and arrested Jumma Rind. Bukhsh Rind, however, is still at large. Police are conducting raids to arrest him.
MAN KILLS WIFE OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, August 1, 2000
Sukkur, July 31, 2000: Gulzar Chachar allegedly killed his twenty-one-year-old wife on the pretext of karo-kari in the Makhno Chachar village, in Ghotki, on Monday and threw her body into the river. Mohommad Arif Chachar, his father-in-law, lodged an FIR? but no arrest has been reported so far. 18 CASES OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN REGISTERED IN MULTAN, The NATION, August 6, 2000 Multan: Total 18 cases of violence against women were registered in Multan district during last month. It was officially stated by SSP office on Friday. Of them two cases of gang rape, 12 of kidnapping of women, and four of rape were registered, and total 20 accused were held. Challans of these cases were being finalized in the light of medico-legal certificate and a report of medical examiner.
DEATH SENTENCE FOR KARO-KARI, The NEWS, August 13, 2000
Sukkur: Second Additional Sessions Judge Sukkur Sikander Ali Bhatti awarded the death penalty and a fine of Rs 30,000 to Shaukat Chohan for committing murder. Out of the fine money Rs 40,000 would be paid to the heirs of the deceased. According to prosecution, Shaukat Chohan had killed his wife Lal Khatoon with the help of his brother Asghar Chohan on October 30, 1998, on a charge of Karo-Kari, suspecting her of having illicit relations with someone. However, both the accused were awarded the death penalty, despite their stand of killing a Kari.
MAN KILLS WIFE OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, August 24, 2000
Sukkur, August 24: Subhal Gajirani allegedly shot and killed his wife, Gullan, on the pretext of karo-kari in Dubber near here. After postmortem, the Rohri Hospital authorities handed over her body to her father, who said his daughter had been innocent and had been killed over a domestic dispute. WOMAN, MAN KILLED OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, September 2, 2000 Larkana, Sept 1: Two persons were killed and another was injured on the pretext of karo-kari in the Yarodero village near the Wagan town on Friday. Zahoor Ahmed Sheikh and Saleem Sheik Panhwar were sitting in the autaq of Sher Khan Tunio when armed men shot and wounded them. The injured were taken to a local hospital where Sheikh died from his wounds. Later the assailants killed Rashidan, aged 22, wife of Sodhar, giving the killings a color of karo-kari. Sheikhs brother lodged a complaint with the Wagan police, who arrested Majid Tunio.
TWO WOMEN, MAN KILLED OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, September 4, 2000
Sukkur, Sept.3: Two women and a man were killed on the pretext of karo-kari in Daharki and Mirpur Mathelo on Sunday. Yar Mohammed shot and killed his wife, Sakina, aged 30, and his neighbor, Rahim Dad, in Yaro Lund. He suspected that his wife had met Dad in his absence. Tabeel, aged 22, was axed to death by her husband, Bilawal, in the Andal Sundrani area of Daharki. Bilawal stuffed the body in a gunny bag after cutting it into pieces and threw the bag in the river. He is at large.
TWO KILLED, TWO HURT OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, September 10, 2000
Sukkur, September 9: Two persons were killed and two wounded on the pretext of karo-kari here on Saturday. Abdul Rahim shot and killed his wife, suspecting that she bad been maintaining illicit relations with a person in the Sehar Bund village near Ghotki. He threw her body into a river. Jumma Shahkani, aged 24, was killed and Shujawal and Nabi Bukhsh were wounded in a clash between two groups of the Shahkani tribe over karo-kari. Police registered a case and were investigating the matter, No arrest was reported.
MAN KILLS WIFE OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, September 11, 2000
Khairpur, Sept 10: Ali Dino Mirani shot and killed his wife, Resham, on the pretext of karo-kari in the Kalari Maqam Mohallah of Pir-jo-Goth on Saturday night. Resham, aged 25, had three daughters. Her brother, Rab Nawaz Mirani, lodged an FIR with the Pir-jo-Goth police against Mirani, who is at large.
TWO SHOT DEAD OVER KARO-KARI, DAWN, September 23, 2000
Sukkur, September 22: Two persons were killed on the pretext of karo-kari in the Saho Khan village of Jacobabad on Friday. Seven armed men shot and killed Allah Dino Loher, aged 22, and Begam Loher, aged 16. The assailants cut the bodies into pieces and fled the scene. Later, relatives of the deceased lodged an FIR with police against Chan Loher, Ali Hasan, Mohommad Hasan, Ghulam Rasool, Rehmat, Mohammad Rafique and an unknown assailant.
HONOR KILLINGS ARE ON THE RISE
Saba Gul Khattak of The NEWS, in her article, NATURALIZING HONOUR KILLINGS: DO WE NEED MURDERERS TO GUARD OUR HONOUR? Gives us some food for thought as to why the vicious practice of honor killings is on the rise. The writer refers to a particular kind of identity politics that has emerged in Pakistan over the last two decades which is directly linked to making honour killings above-board.
Until the 1960s it was still popular for men to carry on in the way of the British as they had learned in the days of colonialism. Everyone aspired to be a model sahib--the rational man. The colonial notion of the sahib rested upon westernized standards of rationality and enlightenment. The sahib was a product of secular colonial education, which helped him adopt Western dress and manners with ease and taught him to exhibit a healthy contempt toward local culture, traditions, beliefs (read superstitions) and knowledge systems. He was the epitome of the modern man--urbane and cosmopolitan. Not incidentally, he also represented the ruling elite.
Then, with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, there came a rising of the middle class, and a government seemingly sympathetic to the poor. Land reforms (which did not amount to substantive re-distribution but had symbolic value) were implemented to break the power of the feudal lords just as industries were nationalized to break the monopoly of the infamous 22 families. The bureaucracy and other semi-state institutions were purged in different waves indicating a shift in politics and change in the social classes with access to power. People returned to donning traditional dress, and the ideology retrogressed. The neo-conservatism surfaced clearly under Ziaul Haq. It tried to bring about a complete break with the past--a past that symbolized modernization and was considered to be neo-colonialist. Thus this regime deliberately rejected the modern sahib and in his place cultivated the image of the indigenous man. This was the time when the order that women should be properly covered in public places, including on television, was passed along with anti-women legislation. This was also fuelled by the change in the social class origins of the ruling classes. The bureaucracy and the military no longer commanded their members from the old elite whose sons went abroad to study and work. After the Green Revolution and the Middle-East remittances, middle and lower middle classes began to dominate the decision-making apparatuses of the state. It was this new class whose thinking and ideology was reflected in the political arena.
The westernized rational man was no longer the ideal. Upholding Pakistani culture became a central theme, especially where women were concerned. With this new Pakistan (male) identity politics, the cultivation of the indigenous man was a return to traditional values, and hailing back a past mired in feudalism. There was, in a sense, a good-bye to reason in so far as it depicted westernization and modernity. These terms came to be used pejoratively, especially in reference to women. There was an effort to retrieve and recreate a golden Islamic past.
Given this larger than life picture, there was set thus a context that condoned rather than condemned honour killings. This reached its climax in 1999 under the Nawaz Sharif government when the Senate of Pakistan refused to pass a motion condemning honour killings.
In conclusion, Saba Gul Khattak writes: While governments repeat, parrot fashion, that they are committed to womens human rights, appropriate action is seldom if ever taken. Where is the accountability drive for womens lives? While the present government states that it considers honour killings to be murders, yet it has steadfastly not done anything about that infamous clause grave and sudden provocation that lets off most murderers. Similarly, the Islamic law of diyat (blood money) also lets off culprits since the victims family members forgive or are forced to forgive the murderer.
The misogynist aspect of the complex identity politics in Pakistan without fail accuses those who champion womens rights as being westernized. This accusation is supposed to discredit them. Another critique of any public discussion of honour killings is that these killings represent a small percentage of the overall crime in Pakistan, and that Pakistan has other more serious problems than that of honour killings. It is also alleged that these issues have been brought to the forefront at the behest of foreign donors, agents or the Zionists to discredit the Islamic Pakistan. Concrete proof is cited as in the case of the BBC documentary on honour killings in Pakistan. Be that as it may, the fact remains that a murder is a murder.
The politics between the Islamic republic of Pakistan and the West notwithstanding, in the end it is women who suffer when Pakistans misogynist traditions are glorified. And it is this point that must continue to be the central concern. We should not let our concern for justice be overtaken by other kinds of politics and concerns.
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