Gendercide in Pakistan: Women are a colonized population!

By Fauzia Rafiq

Aurat Foundation has released numbers for the First Quarter of this year, January to March 2008: 91 days. Just for now, i will count them 90 in honor of the 90 Shaheed Women who were reported to be killed for ‘honour’ in these three months.
90 ‘Honour’ Killings…

This is somewhat the picture that emerges from this report:

Each Day in Pakistan
1 woman is killed for honour (read ‘male honour’)
4+ women are murdered (‘murdered by men’)
2+ women are abducted (‘abducted by men’)
1+ women are injured in ‘domestic violence’ (‘wife assault, daughter assault, sister assault, daughter-in-law assault, sister-in-law assault’)

Each Week in Pakistan
4+ women are raped
1+ women are gang-raped
5+ women commit suicide
2+ women face ‘custodial violence’ (‘sexual, physical, psychological abuse by officials while in police custody’)
2- women face sexual assault
1+ women are burnt (‘burnt with kerosine oil’)

Each month in Pakistan
1 woman faces acid attack

This is how a month looks like
30 women are killed for male honour
122 women are murdered
82 women are abducted
39+ women are injured in ‘domestic violence’
20 women are raped
6 women are gang-raped
22 women commit suicide
11+ women face ‘custodial violence’
8 women face sexual assault
5+ women are burnt

Women Are A Colonized Population in Pakistan
This is 152 women killed every month; and, 193 women abducted, battered, raped, gang-raped, violated in police custody, sexually assaulted, acid attacked and burnt. No wonder 22 women choose to end their lives each month.

Where 367 women are killed/assaulted/raped/humiliated each month, the entire population of women of that country is subjected to a minimum of 367 violent, cruel and gender-biased threats on monthly basis.

As well, and at the same time, 367 messages of vulgar victory are delivered to privileged Muslim men around the country.

The history of the colonization of Pakistani women may not be short and sweat but it is for sure un-complicated. In a feudal/tribal/religious society, the implementation of Muslim Sharia Laws, the Hudood Ordinances, provided what was lacking: the divine sanction to subjugate/abuse a whole population group to serve another. The Military, the MullaN and the US Empire have all benefited at the expense of Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats who are now reduced to errand boys/girls helping out to manage and exploit an already dis-empowered population.

Out of this, women, who are more than half the number of men, are rendered expendable. The ‘Declaration on Burying Women Alive/Killing of Women in the Name of “Honour” and other Customary Practices’, passed by women’s and human rights organizations in Islamabad after a national-level consultation in September, acknowledges and points to the situation like this:
‘that we will no longer allow women to be used as pawns – as convenient expendable targets – in feuds between men over murder, property, money, political and tribal rivalries, blood vendettas and misplaced perceptions of “honour” issues;’

Which Women?
The women being murdered, assaulted and mutilated in Pakistan are not you and me. I may be a ‘kari’ but i will not be the one caught/flogged/stoned/killed. It is inevitable that the woman who will suffer this punishment will be a woman of less social and economic status or a woman ‘belonging’ to men of less economic and social status; and, it will not matter if she is a ‘kari’ or not.

A woman Minister was shot dead by the eXtreme MullaNs last year but such instances are few and far between. So far, its 91 under-privileged women to about 1-2 privileged women a year.

Just as the war in Vietnam became an issue for American people and the Western world only when white soldiers began to die there in numbers, the gender-cide in Pakistan remains un-acknowledged by Pakistani people and the world because the women being killed/assaulted at the minimum rate of 367 per month do not belong to the privileged classes.

The ‘acknowledgment’ of gender-cide is not sought from the Military, MullaN or the Empire but from the progressive politicians, academicians, professionals, activists and bureaucrats who are engaged in a fight for peace, democracy and human rights.

We have to acknowledge a situation of urgency before we can respond to it; and, this is one such situation. Because you know why?

The ‘367 per month’ is an Inaccurate Number
Based on the information released by Aurat Foundation for the First Quarter of this year, the number of ‘honour’ killings rose from 1000 a year in 2001-2002 to 1192 a year in 2008. However, I truly believe that the actual number of killings is much higher.

Most cases involving lesser women/people do not get registered to be counted in researches and surveys. ‘Rapes and gang-rapes are a dime a dozen in feudal Pakistan; exploitation, of women, as also of other lesser mortals is managed in urban environments with sophistication. Neither, gets reported in routine.’ In Search of Decency by Zafar Samdani

There are graves being un-earthed in Pakistan of unregistered crimes against women. ‘… during the past two years, as many as 100 young girls and women had been murdered and their graves were unearthed recently.’ Motion Filed in Senate Against Killing of 100 Women

Delivering Justice to (under-privileged) Women
This is an article published in 2004 where the author recalls the memory of Nawabpur case that had happened in 1984. Beginning with the ‘Elder’ of the avenging family, the author has this to say in The tormenting memory of Nawabpur by Omar R. Quraishi :
‘One can only be astonished by the audacity of this man who probably saw it fit to deny or justify the parading of women naked at gunpoint, because one of their relatives allegedly had an affair or affairs with female relatives of the men who came to take revenge.
(Touch-wood 2008: Mir Israr Ullah Zehri)
‘A military court heard the case and after the incident an amendment (through the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance 1984 – Section 354 A) was inserted in the Pakistan Penal Code.
(Touch-Wood 2008: Laws will be amended, Sherry Rehman)
‘It increased the maximum sentence from two years in jail to capital punishment for anyone who forced a woman to strip naked in public. Despite that, the men tried in the Nawabpur case were not given capital punishment or even life sentence.
(Touch-Wood 2008: The more influential culprits in the Baloch women case have not even been charged yet)
‘In fact, two months later they were all released on bail. Akbar’s shattered and broken family left the village fearing that the released men might return and persecute them.’
(Persecution is on. Three older women were buried alive for objecting to the earlier alive burials of five women.)

The Most Unfortunate Fact is the People Who Are Killing Women
In the case of Five (now Eight) women who were buried alive in Balochistan, seven people were arrested, and this is who they are:
‘The arrested include the fathers of the three girls, a brother of two of the girls, a cousin of one of the girls and two others whose identities have not been disclosed’.

This is robbing the hearts and souls of women. One hell of a scary ‘family’! I wonder why a society continues to protect it.

And that is why if we cannot mount enough legal and social resistance in Pakistan and outside to protect women in their homes, we will be putting a vast majority of women’s population at an increased risk of violence and abuse from ‘displeased’ and now a bit ‘hunted’ men in their lives.

This is even more true where women are living in tribal, rural or extreme religious home/family environments.
Aithae vudh hyati nochdae/mere sajjan saak peyarae

An Unscietific Indicator of the Current level of Resistance on this Issue
I am proud to belong to some of the most vibrant Pakistani lists on the Net; foremost among them is the one used by five organizations of progressive workers, peasants, women, and rights activists with over 3000 members.

On September 26, ‘Zardari flirts with Palin’ and ‘Zardari calls Palin gorgeous’ were posted with ‘Three more women buried alive in Balochistan today’.

From September 26 to October 1, the first two drew 19 and 6 posts while the third got 2.

From those two, one was mine.

I think that it is almost a true indicator of the order of our priorities in Pakistan; and in that order, women receiving alive burials for wanting to exercise their basic human rights are remembered twice every 25 instances of imperial gossip.

Related Content
‘Violence Against Women’? No! GENDER-CIDE in Pakistan!
Women Slam Govt Against ‘Honour’ Killings
Poems
1. Kikli 13 July Punjabi Roman
Shaheed Bibi Fauzia
2. Fauzia of Mir Wah English
2a. Mir Wah de Fauzia Punjabi
Shaheed Bibi Benaam 1
3. Mir Wah de benaam Chhori Number One Punjabi Roman
Shaheed Bibi Jannat
4. Swal Jannat da NahiN Roman
5. Vaen (mourning)
5a. Vaen Shahmukhi
Shaheed Bibi Fatmah
6. Hun MainuN Na Ro

Islamabad Declaration on ‘Honour’ crimes

We publish this Declaration with our heart-felt and active support for the understanding, recommendations and demands outlined here to fight all forms of violence against women in Pakistan.

And, indeed women killed thus are our heroes because they are the ones who likely stood up for their rights; creating pathways for all of us to walk with dignity and honor.

Burying Five Women Alive in Naseerabad and the Customary Practices

ISLAMABAD: Representatives of civil society organizations and committed activists from all over Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Jacobabad, Khairpur, Larkana, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Naseerabad, Mardan, Swabi and Islamabad gathered here in Islamabad for a national consultation on 18 September 2008, on the issue of ‘Burying Five Women Alive in Naseerabad and the Customary Practices’.

The Consultation was called together by the Joint Action Committees (JACs), Women’s Action Forums (WAF chapters), Insani Haqooq Itehad (IHI) and Violence Against Women (VAW) Watch Groups. The Consultation discussed the issue in detail in a day-long deliberation and devised strategies to deal with the alarming situation of violence against women, particularly the cases of heinous nature such as honour killings, gang rape, acid throwing etc.

The Consultation has issued the following declaration after the conclusion of its deliberations:

Declaration on Burying Women Alive/Killing of Women in the Name of “Honour” and other Customary Practices
18 September 2008: Islamabad

We, members of the Joint Action Committees (JACs), Women’s Action Forums (WAF chapters), Insani Haqooq Itehad (IHI) and Violence Against Women Watch Groups, hereby declare:

that burying women alive or killing them is the most inhuman, heinous, barbaric, unspeakable crime amongst the vast spectrum of violent crimes against women;
that the defence of such cruel inhumanity in the name of so-called ‘honour’, or tribal customs, traditions and norms is totally unacceptable and indefensible; and that such traditions are NOT honourable;
that we will no longer tolerate the impunity of such instances of brutal killings of women in the name of so-called “honour” ANYWHERE in Pakistan;
that we will continue to condemn and abhor and work against ALL such crimes against women, reported from any part of Pakistan;
that we will employ all our strengths, energies and efforts to prevent any form of a cover-up of such heinous crimes against women by the entrenched tribal, feudal and patriarchal structures and systems, whether demonstrated by the political elites, the legislators, the judiciary, the police, or the federal, provincial, district or local administrations; or by self-styled religious vigilantes;
that we will no longer allow women to be used as pawns – as convenient expendable targets – in feuds between men over murder, property, money, political and tribal rivalries, blood vendettas and misplaced perceptions of “honour” issues;

We demand the following immediate actions from the Government of Pakistan:
1. Civil Society Commission to prepare an independent Fact Finding Report.
2. Letters of concern to Parliament.
3. Shaheed Auratain (Women killed in the name of ‘honour’ are Martyrs) – raise these women to hero status
4. Long March for Shaheed Women
5. Disqualification of Senator Zehri and all those public representatives who defended ‘Honour Killings’.
6. Demand a legislation against Jirgas/Panchayats/Informal judicial structures.
7. Dua for Shaheed Aurtain and offer Namaz-e-Janazaa
8. Focus groups with legislators to discuss the Honour killing law (Dec 2004) and the necessary amendments.
10. Encourage other senators to initiate complaint against Zehri tin the Senate.
11. Launch a Poster and Media campaign.
12. Documentary on such issue should be publicized
13. Visit and offer Fateha at graveyards of women killed under the name of “honour” .
14. Protest outside Joint Session on 20th Sept in Islamabad and provincial capitals
15. Signature campaigns
16. Form a group of concerned individuals including lawyers, retired Judges, Human Rights activitsts and media personnel that should include some eminent personalities to follow such cases
17. Vigilant committees in region to monitor day to day updates and reporting to everyone.
18. Acknowledge the courage and stance of Senator Yasmeen Shah and many media persons who have continued to report on this issue despite threats to their lives.
19. Dedicate 16 Days of Activism this year (2008) to Shaheed Women Killed in the name of Honour.
20. We demand that public representatives denounce all forms of killings particularly of women whether in the name of ‘honour’, ‘tradition’ or ‘custom’.

• Women and human rights group will hold 4 seminars at Provincial levels in the interior of the country in order to build vocal support against ‘honour killings’.

• We call upon the government representatives to stay vigilant in order to identify the preparation of such a crime as ‘honour killing’ so that prevention measures can be timely taken up.

• The government should provide protection to potential victims of ‘honour killings’ and restraining orders be passed against those accused of conspiracy to murder.

• Those threatening women activists and Parliamentarians for denouncing the act of ‘honour killings’ should be proceeded against under the law.

• The Penal Code needs to be further amended so that murder is brought back as a crime against the state and should under no circumstances be compounded. Murder of members of vulnerable groups be taken as an aggravated rather than mitigated circumstance.

• A high powered commission be set up to present a report to the Parliament on Violence Against Women (VAW), particularly focusing on state responsibility and to present its conclusions and recommendations for legal policy action by the government.

• The government should provide protection to women NGOs deserving to undertake fact finding missions in incidents of ‘honour killings’.

• An Independent Public Prosecutor to nominate a senior lawyer to follow up with the police

More information: mullokhan@gmail.com

Related Content
Gendercide in Pakistan: Women are a colonized population!
‘Violence Against Women’? No! GENDER-CIDE in Pakistan!
Women Slam Govt Against ‘Honour’ Killings

Dowry dearer than ever

By Atif Nadeem

LAHORE

At least 80 percent increase in prices of the daily-use electronic appliances, has caused problems for the poor, especially for those who want to give dowry to their daughters in their marriage and the domestic women workers who purchase many appliances on monthly installments.

A dowry means the money, goods, or estate a girls brings to her husbandís home in marriage. There is no harm in giving the bride gifts and the daily-use item in the form of dowry, but more and more girls are not getting married because their parents can not meet the ëdemandsí of the groomís family.

The basic household appliances are mainly microwave oven, washing machine, geyser, fridge and TV. The poor usually purchase the electronic appliances on monthly installments from the market. The recent increase in the prices of the household appliances is quite worrisome for the poor as they would not be able to but dowries for their daughtersí marriages.

During a survey conducted by The News, it is learnt that the sale of electronics appliances has seen a decline and the business of monthly installment is one the rise again. The survey was conducted in Abid Market at Temple Road, a hub of electronics appliances, in the provincial metropolis.

Washing machine was sold for Rs 4,000, oven for Rs 3,000, sewing machine for Rs 2, 500, ceiling fan for Rs 800, fridge for Rs 18,000, geyser for Rs 7,000, AC for Rs 21,000 before the decision of the rise in the prices of the electronics appliances and the new prices are: washing machine is sold for Rs 6,000, oven for Rs 5,000, sewing machine for Rs 4,000, fridge for Rs 32,500, geyser for Rs 12,000 and AC for Rs 28,000.

“The sale of the electronics appliances is not encouraging as the increase in the prices has discouraged the poor to buy the electronics appliances but it is also a fact that prices do not matter for the rich,” said Muhammad Ali, the owner of an electronics shop.

The previous Ramadan saw a great activity in the electronics market regarding purchase of domestic appliances as a lot of marriage ceremonies take place after Eid-ul-Fitr. But this time the market is sans buyers, says Muhammad Salem, a salesman.

The issue of dowry has tuned out to be the major cause of a lot of burn cases. The issue is quite common among the poor as their daughters are not treated with respect if they do not bring a lot dowry with them.

“It seems as if the government has increased the prices of electronics appliances of the daily use in order to add to the difficulties of the poor. The government also seems to ignore the fact that this decision could also cause social and family problems for the masses,” said another customer Muhammad Aftab.

Though the government has increased the prices of imported appliances, it has not affected the sale of the imported appliances, the survey showed. Thus the poor can not help buying the appliances even at the increased rates for their daughtersí marriages dowries.

“I am doing two jobs at two houses and I have come to buy a washing machine for my daughterís marriage on installments, but it seems that I will have to start another job to materialize the dream”, says Aamna, a house maid. She has appealed to the government to reverse the decision while keeping in mind the troubles of the poor.

“The rich always talk about ending the dowry tradition but the fact is that they always promote such negative trends and traditions in the society. They also make the lives of the poor quite pitiable by following such traditions including dowry,” says Muhammad Ahsan, a father who came to buy electronics appliances for his daughterís marriage.

The famous psychiatrist and consultant of Punjab Institute of Mental Health (PIMH) Dr Nusrat Habib Rana says dowry has become a widespread social evil which causes domestic violence in a large number of cases in society.

She says that dowry should be eliminated from the society to bring about harmony in the relationship of husband and wife while strengthening the family relationship. She points out the fact that in most of the female-psycho cases, domestic issues affect the women, and dowry is one of the causes of such irritation in the relationships.

She says the society should discourage such negative practices, adding that the government should help the poor get their daughters married while taking measures to control the price-hike in the country.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Director Hussain Naqi while talking to The News said that dowry was, no doubt, a curse which was against the Islamic customs. He urged the Muslims to abandon the traditions.

He said that rise in the prices of the electronics appliances had increased troubles of the low-income people, especially the poor parents who were buying some appliances for their daughters.

He called upon the civil society to launch a social movement for discouraging dowry as it had become a major cause of domestic violence against women. He cited an example of such a civil organization working on the same issue in India. He said that the parents should try to give their daughters quality, professional education, not massive dowry.

He urged the religious scholars to throw light upon this obnoxious tradition according to the teachings of Islam.

thenews.com.pk