‘The crimewave that shames the world’ by Robert Fisk

It is a tragedy, a horror, a crime against humanity. The details of the murders – of the women beheaded, burned to death, stoned to death, stabbed, electrocuted, strangled and buried alive for the “honour” of their families – are as barbaric as they are shameful. Many women’s groups in the Middle East and South-west Asia suspect the victims are at least four times the United Nations’ latest world figure of around 5,000 deaths a year. Most of the victims are young, many are teenagers, slaughtered under a vile tradition that goes back hundreds of years but which now spans half the globe.

A 10-month investigation by The Independent in Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank has unearthed terrifying details of murder most foul. Men are also killed for “honour” and, despite its identification by journalists as a largely Muslim practice, Christian and Hindu communities have stooped to the same crimes. Indeed, the “honour” (or ird) of families, communities and tribes transcends religion and human mercy. But voluntary women’s groups, human rights organisations, Amnesty International and news archives suggest that the slaughter of the innocent for “dishonouring” their families is increasing by the year.

Iraqi Kurds, Palestinians in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey appear to be the worst offenders but media freedoms in these countries may over-compensate for the secrecy which surrounds “honour” killings in Egypt – which untruthfully claims there are none – and other Middle East nations in the Gulf and the Levant. But honour crimes long ago spread to Britain, Belgium, Russia and Canada and many other nations. Security authorities and courts across much of the Middle East have connived in reducing or abrogating prison sentences for the family murder of women, often classifying them as suicides to prevent prosecutions.

It is difficult to remain unemotional at the vast and detailed catalogue of these crimes. How should one react to a man – this has happened in both Jordan and Egypt – who rapes his own daughter and then, when she becomes pregnant, kills her to save the “honour” of his family? Or the Turkish father and grandfather of a 16-year-old girl, Medine Mehmi, in the province of Adiyaman, who was buried alive beneath a chicken coop in February for “befriending boys”? Her body was found 40 days later, in a sitting position and with her hands tied.

Or Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, 13, who in Somalia in 2008, in front of a thousand people, was dragged to a hole in the ground – all the while screaming, “I’m not going – don’t kill me” – then buried up to her neck and stoned by 50 men for adultery? After 10 minutes, she was dug up, found to be still alive and put back in the hole for further stoning. Her crime? She had been raped by three men and, fatally, her family decided to report the facts to the Al-Shabab militia that runs Kismayo. Or the Al-Shabab Islamic “judge” in the same country who announced the 2009 stoning to death of a woman – the second of its kind the same year – for having an affair? Her boyfriend received a mere 100 lashes.

Or the young woman found in a drainage ditch near Daharki in Pakistan, “honour” killed by her family as she gave birth to her second child, her nose, ears and lips chopped off before being axed to death, her first infant lying dead among her clothes, her newborn’s torso still in her womb, its head already emerging from her body? She was badly decomposed; the local police were asked to bury her. Women carried the three to a grave, but a Muslim cleric refused to say prayers for her because it was “irreligious” to participate in the namaz-e-janaza prayers for “a cursed woman and her illegitimate children”.

So terrible are the details of these “honour” killings, and so many are the women who have been slaughtered, that the story of each one might turn horror into banality. But lest these acts – and the names of the victims, when we are able to discover them – be forgotten, here are the sufferings of a mere handful of women over the past decade, selected at random, country by country, crime after crime.

Last March, Munawar Gul shot and killed his 20-year-old sister, Saanga, in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, along with the man he suspected was having “illicit relations” with her, Aslam Khan.

In August of 2008, five women were buried alive for “honour crimes” in Baluchistan by armed tribesmen; three of them – Hameeda, Raheema and Fauzia – were teenagers who, after being beaten and shot, were thrown still alive into a ditch where they were covered with stones and earth. When the two older women, aged 45 and 38, protested, they suffered the same fate. The three younger women had tried to choose their own husbands. In the Pakistani parliament, the MP Israrullah Zehri referred to the murders as part of a “centuries-old tradition” which he would “continue to defend”.

In December 2003, a 23-year-old woman in Multan, identified only as Afsheen, was murdered by her father because, after an unhappy arranged marriage, she ran off with a man called Hassan who was from a rival, feuding tribe. Her family was educated – they included civil servants, engineers and lawyers. “I gave her sleeping pills in a cup of tea and then strangled her with a dapatta [a long scarf, part of a woman’s traditional dress],” her father confessed. He told the police: “Honour is the only thing a man has. I can still hear her screams, she was my favourite daughter. I want to destroy my hands and end my life.” The family had found Afsheen with Hassan in Rawalpindi and promised she would not be harmed if she returned home. They were lying.

Zakir Hussain Shah slit the throat of his daughter Sabiha, 18, at Bara Kau in June 2002 because she had “dishonoured” her family. But under Pakistan’s notorious qisas law, heirs have powers to pardon a murderer. In this case, Sabiha’s mother and brother “pardoned” the father and he was freed. When a man killed his four sisters in Mardan in the same year, because they wanted a share of his inheritance, his mother “pardoned” him under the same law. In Sarghoda around the same time, a man opened fire on female members of his family, killing two of his daughters. Yet again, his wife – and several other daughters wounded by him – “pardoned” the murderer because they were his heirs.

Outrageously, rape is also used as a punishment for “honour” crimes. In Meerwala village in the Punjab in 2002, a tribal “jury” claimed that an 11-year-old boy from the Gujar tribe, Abdul Shakoor, had been walking unchaperoned with a 30-year-old woman from the Mastoi tribe, which “dishonoured” the Mastois. The tribal elders decided that to “return” honour to the group, the boy’s 18-year-old sister, Mukhtaran Bibi, should be gang-raped. Her father, warned that all the female members of his family would be raped if he did not bring Mukhtar to them, dutifully brought his daughter to this unholy “jury”. Four men, including one of the “jury”, immediately dragged the girl to a hut and raped her while up to a hundred men laughed and cheered outside. She was then forced to walk naked through the village to her home. It took a week before the police even registered the crime – as a “complaint”.

Acid attacks also play their part in “honour” crime punishments. The Independent itself gave wide coverage in 2001 to a Karachi man called Bilal Khar who poured acid over his wife Fakhra Yunus’s face after she left him and returned to her mother’s home in the red-light area of the city. The acid fused her lips, burned off her hair, melted her breasts and an ear, and turned her face into “a look of melted rubber”. That same year, a 20-year-old woman called Hafiza was shot twice by her brother, Asadullah, in front of a dozen policemen outside a Quetta courthouse because she had refused to follow the tradition of marrying her dead husband’s elder brother. She had then married another man, Fayyaz Moon, but police arrested the girl and brought her back to her family in Quetta on the pretext that the couple could formally marry there. But she was forced to make a claim that Fayaz had kidnapped and raped her. It was when she went to court to announce that her statement was made under pressure – and that she still regarded Fayaz as her husband – that Asadullah murdered her. He handed his pistol to a police constable who had witnessed the killing.

One of the most terrible murders in 1999 was that of a mentally retarded 16-year-old, Lal Jamilla Mandokhel, who was reportedly raped by a junior civil servant in Parachinar in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Her uncle filed a complaint with the police but handed Lal over to her tribe, whose elders decided she should be killed to preserve tribal “honour”. She was shot dead in front of them. Arbab Khatoon was raped by three men in the Jacobabad district. She filed a complaint with the police. Seven hours later, she was murdered by relatives who claimed she had “dishonoured” them by reporting the crime.

Over 10 years ago, Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission was recording “honour” killings at the rate of a thousand a year. But if Pakistan seems to have the worst track record of “honour” crimes – and we must remember that many countries falsely claim to have none – Turkey might run a close second. According to police figures between 2000 and 2006, a reported 480 women – 20 per cent of them between the ages of 19 and 25 – were killed in “honour” crimes and feuds. Other Turkish statistics, drawn up more than five years ago by women’s groups, suggest that at least 200 girls and women are murdered every year for “honour”. These figures are now regarded as a vast underestimate. Many took place in Kurdish areas of the country; an opinion poll found that 37 per cent of Diyabakir’s citizens approved of killing a woman for an extramarital affair. Medine Mehmi, the girl who was buried alive, lived in the Kurdish town of Kahta.

In 2006, authorities in the Kurdish area of South-east Anatolia were recording that a woman tried to commit suicide every few weeks on the orders of her family. Others were stoned to death, shot, buried alive or strangled. A 17-year-old woman called Derya who fell in love with a boy at her school received a text message from her uncle on her mobile phone. It read: “You have blackened our name. Kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first.” Derya’s aunt had been killed by her grandfather for an identical reason. Her brothers also sent text messages, sometimes 15 a day. Derya tried to carry out her family’s wishes. She jumped into the Tigris river, tried to hang herself and slashed her wrists – all to no avail. Then she ran away to a women’s shelter.

It took 13 years before Murat Kara, 40, admitted in 2007 that he had fired seven bullets into his younger sister after his widowed mother and uncles told him to kill her for eloping with her boyfriend. Before he murdered his sister in the Kurdish city of Dyabakir, neighbours had refused to talk to Murat Kara and the imam said he was disobeying the word of God if he did not kill his sister. So he became a murderer. Honour restored.

In his book Women In The Grip Of Tribal Customs, a Turkish journalist, Mehmet Farac, records the “honour” killing of five girls in the late 1990s in the province of Sanliurfa. Two of them – one was only 12 – had their throats slit in public squares, two others had tractors driven over them, the fifth was shot dead by her younger brother. One of the women who had her throat cut was called Sevda Gok. Her brothers held her arms down as her adolescent cousin cut her throat.

But the “honour” killing of women is not a uniquely Kurdish crime, even if it is committed in rural areas of the country. In 2001, Sait Kina stabbed his 13-year-old daughter to death for talking to boys in the street. He attacked her in the bathroom with an axe and a kitchen knife. When the police discovered her corpse, they found the girl’s head had been so mutilated that the family had tied it together with a scarf. Sait Kina told the police: “I have fulfilled my duty.”

In the same year, an Istanbul court reduced a sentence against three brothers from life imprisonment to between four and 12 years after they threw their sister to her death from a bridge after accusing her of being a prostitute. The court concluded that her behaviour had “provoked” the murder. For centuries, virginity tests have been considered a normal part of rural tradition before a woman’s marriage. In 1998, when five young women attempted suicide before these tests, the Turkish family affairs minister defended mandated medical examinations for girls in foster homes.

British Kurdish Iraqi campaigner Aso Kamal, of the Doaa Network Against Violence, believes that between 1991 and 2007, 12,500 women were murdered for reasons of “honour” in the three Kurdish provinces of Iraq alone – 350 of them in the first seven months of 2007, for which there were only five convictions. Many women are ordered by their families to commit suicide by burning themselves with cooking oil. In Sulimaniya hospital in 2007, surgeons were treating many women for critical burns which could never have been caused by cooking “accidents” as the women claimed. One patient, Sirwa Hassan, was dying of 86 per cent burns. She was a Kurdish mother of three from a village near the Iranian border. In 2008, a medical officer in Sulimaniya told the AFP news agency that in May alone, 14 young women had been murdered for “honour” crimes in 10 days. In 2000, Kurdish authorities in Sulimaniya had decreed that “the killing or abuse of women under the pretext of cleansing ‘shame’ is not considered to be a mitigating excuse”. The courts, they said, could not apply an old 1969 law “to reduce the penalty of the perpetrator”. The new law, of course, made no difference.

But again, in Iraq, it is not only Kurds who believe in “honour” killings. In Tikrit, a young woman in the local prison sent a letter to her brother in 2008, telling him that she had become pregnant after being raped by a prison guard. The brother was permitted to visit the prison, walked into the cell where his now visibly pregnant sister was held, and shot her dead to spare his family “dishonour”. The mortuary in Baghdad took DNA samples from the woman’s foetus and also from guards at the Tikrit prison. The rapist was a police lieutenant-colonel. The reason for the woman’s imprisonment was unclear. One report said the colonel’s family had “paid off” the woman’s relatives to escape punishment.

In Basra in 2008, police were reporting that 15 women a month were being murdered for breaching “Islamic dress codes”. One 17-year-old girl, Rand Abdel-Qader, was beaten to death by her father two years ago because she had become infatuated with a British soldier. Another, Shawbo Ali Rauf, 19, was taken by her family to a picnic in Dokan and shot seven times because they had found an unfamiliar number on her mobile phone.

In Nineveh, Du’a Khalil Aswad was 17 when she was stoned to death by a mob of 2,000 men for falling in love with a man outside her tribe.

In Jordan, women’s organisations say that per capita, the Christian minority in this country of just over five million people are involved in more “honour” killings than Muslims – often because Christian women want to marry Muslim men. But the Christian community is loath to discuss its crimes and the majority of known cases of murder are committed by Muslims. Their stories are wearily and sickeningly familiar. Here is Sirhan in 1999, boasting of the efficiency with which he killed his young sister, Suzanne. Three days after the 16-year-old had told police she had been raped, Sirhan shot her in the head four times. “She committed a mistake, even if it was against her will,” he said. “Anyway, it’s better to have one person die than to have the whole family die of shame.” Since then, a deeply distressing pageant of “honour” crimes has been revealed to the Jordanian public, condemned by the royal family and slowly countered with ever tougher criminal penalties by the courts.

Yet in 2001, we find a 22-year-old Jordanian man strangling his 17-year-old married sister – the 12th murder of its kind in seven months – because he suspected her of having an affair. Her husband lived in Saudi Arabia. In 2002, Souad Mahmoud strangled his own sister for the same reason. She had been forced to marry her lover – but when the family found out she had been pregnant before her wedding, they decided to execute her.

In 2005, three Jordanians stabbed their 22-year-old married sister to death for taking a lover. After witnessing the man enter her home, the brothers stormed into the house and killed her. They did not harm her lover.

By March 2008, the Jordanian courts were still treating “honour” killings leniently. That month, the Jordanian Criminal Court sentenced two men for killing close female relatives “in a fit of fury” to a mere six months and three months in prison. In the first case, a husband had found a man in his home with his wife and suspected she was having an affair. In the second, a man shot dead his 29-year-old married sister for leaving home without her husband’s consent and “talking to other men on her mobile phone”. In 2009, a Jordanian man confessed to stabbing his pregnant sister to death because she had moved back to her family after an argument with her husband; the brother believed she was “seeing other men”.

And so it goes on. Three men in Amman stabbing their 40-year-old divorced sister 15 times last year for taking a lover; a Jordanian man charged with stabbing to death his daughter, 22, with a sword because she was pregnant outside wedlock. Many of the Jordanian families were originally Palestinian. Nine months ago, a Palestinian stabbed his married sister to death because of her “bad behaviour”. But last month, the Amman criminal court sentenced another sister-killer to 10 years in prison, rejecting his claim of an “honour” killing – but only because there were no witnesses to his claim that she had committed adultery.

In “Palestine” itself, Human Rights Watch has long blamed the Palestinian police and justice system for the near-total failure to protect women in Gaza and the West Bank from “honour” killings. Take, for example, the 17-year-old girl who was strangled by her older brother in 2005 for becoming pregnant – by her own father.

He was present during her murder. She had earlier reported her father to the police. They neither arrested nor interrogated him. In the same year, masked Hamas gunmen shot dead a 20-year-old, Yusra Azzami, for “immoral behaviour” as she spent a day out with her fiancée. Azzami was a Hamas member, her husband-to-be a member of Fatah. Hamas tried to apologise and called the dead woman a “martyr” – to the outrage of her family. Yet only last year, long after Hamas won the Palestinian elections and took over the Gaza Strip, a Gaza man was detained for bludgeoning his daughter to death with an iron chain because he discovered she owned a mobile phone on which he feared she was talking to a man outside the family. He was later released.

Even in liberal Lebanon, there are occasional “honour” killings, the most notorious that of a 31-year-old woman, Mona Kaham, whose father entered her bedroom and cut her throat after learning she had been made pregnant by her cousin. He walked to the police station in Roueiss in the southern suburbs of Beirut with the knife still in his hand. “My conscience is clear,” he told the police. “I have killed to clean my honour.” Unsurprisingly, a public opinion poll showed that 90.7 per cent of the Lebanese public opposed “honour” crimes. Of the few who approved of them, several believed that it helped to limit interreligious marriage.

Syria reflects the pattern of Lebanon. While civil rights groups are demanding a stiffening of the laws against women-killers, government legislation only raised the term of imprisonment for men who kill female relatives for extramarital sex to two years. Among the most recent cases was that of Lubna, a 17-year-old living in Homs, murdered by her family because she fled to her sister’s house after refusing to marry a man they had chosen for her. They also believed – wrongly – that she was no longer a virgin.

Tribal feuds often provoke “honour” killings in Iran and Afghanistan. In Iran, for example, a governor’s official in the ethnic Arab province of Khuzestan stated in 2003 that 45 young women under the age of 20 had been murdered in “honour” killings in just two months, none of which brought convictions. All were slaughtered because of the girl’s refusal to agree to an arranged marriage, failing to abide by Islamic dress code or suspected of having contacts with men outside the family.

Through the dark veil of Afghanistan’s village punishments, we glimpse just occasionally the terror of teenage executions. When Siddiqa, who was only 19, and her 25-year-old fiancé Khayyam were brought before a Taliban-approved religious court in Kunduz province this month, their last words were: “We love each other, no matter what happens.” In the bazaar at Mulla Quli, a crowd – including members of both families – stoned to death first Siddiqa, then Khayyam.

A week earlier, a woman identified as Bibi Sanubar, a pregnant widow, was lashed a hundred times and then shot in the head by a Taliban commander. In April of last year, Taliban gunmen executed by firing squad a man and a girl in Nimruz for eloping when the young woman was already engaged to someone else. History may never disclose how many hundreds of women – and men – have suffered a similar fates at the hands of deeply traditional village families or the Taliban.

But the contagion of “honour” crimes has spread across the globe, including acid attacks on women in Bangladesh for refusing marriages. In one of the most terrible Hindu “honour” killings in India this year, an engaged couple, Yogesh Kumar and Asha Saini, were murdered by the 19-year-old bride-to-be’s family because her fiancée was of lower caste. They were apparently tied up and electrocuted to death.

A similar fate awaited 18-year-old Vishal Sharma, a Hindu Brahmin, who wanted to marry Sonu Singh, a 17- year-old Jat – an “inferior” caste which is usually Muslim. The couple were hanged and their bodies burned in Uttar Pradesh. Three years earlier, a New Delhi court had sentenced to death five men for killing another couple who were of the same sub-caste, which in the eyes of the local “caste council” made them brother and sister.

In Chechnya, Russia’s chosen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, has been positively encouraging men to kill for “honour”. When seven murdered women were found in Grozny, shot in the head and chest, Kadyrov announced – without any proof, but with obvious approval – that they had been killed for living “an immoral life”. Commenting on a report that a Chechen girl had called the police to complain of her abusive father, he suggested the man should be able to murder his daughter. “… if he doesn’t kill her, what kind of man is he? He brings shame on himself!”

And so to the “West”, as we like to call it, where immigrant families have sometimes brought amid their baggage the cruel traditions of their home villages: an Azeri immigrant charged in St Petersburg for hiring hitmen to kill his daughter because she “flouted national tradition” by wearing a miniskirt; near the Belgian city of Charleroi, Sadia Sheikh shot dead by her brother, Moussafa, because she refused to marry a Pakistani man chosen by her family; in the suburbs of Toronto, Kamikar Kaur Dhillon slashes his Punjabi daughter-in-law, Amandeep, across the throat because she wants to leave her arranged marriage, perhaps for another man. He told Canadian police that her separation would “disgrace the family name”.

And, of course, we should perhaps end this catalogue of crime in Britain, where only in the past few years have we ourselves woken to the reality of “honour” crimes; of Surjit Athwal, a Punjabi Sikh woman murdered on the orders of her London-based mother-in-law for trying to escape a violent marriage; of 15-year-old Tulay Goren, a Turkish Kurd from north London, tortured and murdered by her Shia Muslim father because she wished to marry a Sunni Muslim man; of Heshu Yones, 16, stabbed to death by her father in 2005 for going out with a Christian boy; of Caneze Riaz, burned alive by her husband in Accrington, along with their four children – the youngest 10 years old – because of their “Western ways”. Mohamed Riaz was a Muslim Pakistani from the North-West Frontier Province. He died of burns two days after the murders.

Scotland Yard long ago admitted it would have to review over a hundred deaths, some going back more than a decade, which now appear to have been “honour” killings.

These are just a few of the murders, a few names, a small selection of horror stories across the world to prove the pervasive, spreading infection of what must be recognised as a mass crime, a tradition of family savagery that brooks no merciful intervention, no state law, rarely any remorse.

Surjit Athwal

Murdered in 1998 by her in-laws on a trip to the Indian Punjab for daring to seek a divorce from an unhappy marriage

Du’a Khalil Aswad

Aged 17, she was stoned to death in Nineveh, Iraq, by a mob of 2,000 men for falling in love with a man outside her tribe

Rand Abdel-Qader

The Iraqi 17-year-old was stabbed to death by her father two years ago after falling in love with a British soldier in Basra

Fakhra Khar

In 2001 in Karachi, her husband poured acid on her face, after she left him and returned to her mother’s home in the red-light district of the city

Mukhtaran Bibi

The 18-year-old was gang-raped by four men in a hut in the Punjab in 2002, while up to 100 men laughed and cheered outside

Heshu Yones

The 16-year-old was stabbed to death by her Muslim father Abdullah, in west London in 2002, because he disapproved of her Christian boyfriend

Tasleem Solangi

The Pakistani village girl, 17, was falsely accused of immorality and had dogs set on her as a punishment before she was shot dead by in-laws

Shawbo Ali Rauf

Aged 19, she was taken by her family to a picnic in Dokan, Iraq, and shot seven times after they had found an unfamiliar number on her phone

Tulay Goren

The 15-year-old Kurdish girl was killed in north London by her father because the family objected to her choice of husband

Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha

The 20-year-old’s father and uncle murdered her in 2007, after she fell in love with a man her family did not want her to marry

Ayesha Baloch

Accused of having sexual relations with another man before she married, her husband slit her lip and nostril with a knife in Pakistan in 2006

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/
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The Crimson Earth

By Noreen Haider

December 22, 2010, Gujranwala
Shumila, a newly wed bride, murdered by the bridegroom, who staged a dacoity-cum-murder drama to mislead the police after killing his bride over the demand of a car in dowry which the parents of the girl could not afford. Shumaila was offering prayers when Sajid opened fire on her temple and later wounded himself by shooting on his one leg. He later confessed to the killing.
January 16, 2011, Multan
Hina, nine years old, subjected to sexual assault before being murdered in Multan according to the postmortem report. The unfortunate child, left her home to buy some food items from a nearby shop, but she never returned. Her body was later recovered from Basti Khudadad.
January 19, Lahore
Allah Rakhi, forty, killed by her husband on the allegation of illicit relations in Ghaziabad Lahore. Police arrested the accused who confessed his crime and also admitted to killing his 17-year-old daughter Surriya Bibi by strangling her five months ago. Allah Rakhi was hit by hammer repeatedly on her head, which resulted in her instant death. The body of Surriya Bibi was recovered from an empty plot by the police.
January 19, Dera Ghazi Khan
Khursheed twenty one and Nadra twenty three were ambushed by their father and uncles and showered with bullets while returning to their home town of Mozah Marhaata in Pir Adil Village of Dera Ghazi Khan. The two women were allegedly trying to escape a forced marriage. They left their home nearly 18 days ago. The family members were trying to bury their bodies when a SHO, managed to recover the bodies of the victims.
January 20, Khanewal
Asma, eight months pregnant, beaten by iron rods to death by her husband abetted by his family. Asma was tortured in front of her mother, who was held in place by some men, at Kot Abdullah village in Khanewal. The postmortem report confirms torture and death by poison. The police have arrested her husband who has confessed to the killing.
January 20, Vehari
Shaista, seven months pregnant, killed by her husband allegedly over suspicions of having an illicit relationship. She was choked to death by stuffing a piece of cloth in her mouth. Her husband Yousaf and his father, Hafeez, were arrested by the police where they admitted to killing Shazia.
January 21, Multan
Zainab Bibi, wife of a laborer was gang raped after her husband Arshad Muhammad asked a local landlord Ameen to pay his wages. The landlord owed him thirty thousand rupees. On the demand of payment, Arshad was verbally abused and brutally beaten with sticks by the hit men of the landlord. Later, Zainab was abducted by Ameen and his accomplices and was taken to Ameen’s farmhouse where she was gang raped. A few hours later she was thrown near her house badly injured. Local police officials refused to file the FIR against the criminals. The case was registered only after Khanewal district session judge Ijaz Ahmed Butt took notice of the case. Ameen and his accomplice fled the district and are now at large.
22 January, Lahore
Shazia, 26, was brutally beaten by her husband along with his brothers and other members of his family and then thrown from the roof critically injuring her and breaking her legs, arms, jaw and head. Police initially refused to file a case against the culprits. She, the mother of four children, is still hanging between life and death. Her family is constantly receiving death threats from her in-laws in case they pursue the case. The main culprit is still at large.
January 22, Burewala
Najma Bibi is reported missing for days after her in-laws disgraced her in the name of honor in Mochiwala, Bherowala. In line with the decision of the panchayat, the in-laws of Najma Bibi, 24, cut her hair, blackened her face and paraded her in the streets on the allegation of having illicit relations with a man of the same village. Najma and her children were later evicted from the village on the orders of the Panchayat which ruled that an example should be made of her before she was turned out of the village.
January 23, Bahawalpur
Saima, 17, electrocuted to death in Bahawalpur district on the orders of a Panchayat that comprised of her father and three uncles. Her crime was that she had eloped with a man in the neighborhood and married him. According to eye witnesses there were signs of severe torture and burn injuries on her body.

It may seem that these cases are taken out of the plot of some horror movie or are stories from the land of barbarians who have never seen the light of modern day world but in reality these are but a few of the reported cases of violent crimes against women, in the very first month of the new year. Every day women are being killed in excruciatingly painful ways and there is no apparent end to it. All the above cited cases have occurred in the Punjab where the rulers have tall claims of “good governance”

It is preposterous that Panchayat (the informal local councils) are still continuing in Pakistan and handing out verdicts including death sentences against women. These courts have no legal or constitutional authority and they have no business running a parallel system of vigilante justice.

It is the complete failure of the provincial governments, district administrations and the law enforcement agencies that the Panchayats are handing out death sentences to helpless women.

The Chief Minister Punjab, Home Department, IG Police and the Law Minister are directly responsible for the horrendous situation in Punjab regarding violent crimes against women.

The regular occurrence of these cases has exposed the crumbling administrative system in Punjab and the even poorer intelligence system. The Central Intelligence Department is doing a poor job of gathering intelligence about developing situations which precipitate into such violent crimes. The police are lagging behind most of the time, and actually do nothing to prevent crimes against women. Even after the occurrence of such crimes, the inertia continues. The family members of rape victims have to virtually get raped themselves in order to get the police to come out of their slumber and register the case.

But the real cause of alarm is not just the brutal killings, rape and maiming of women by their own family members, but the effortless ease and fearless ways these horrific crimes are now being carried out right under the noses of the district administration, in broad daylight. The killers and abettors have neither any fear of the law nor of any social condemnation. In fact in many cases the killing of the “allegedly tainted women” by the family is taken as a sign of honour and he-man-ship.

Although the response of the police and the law enforcing agencies is pitiable and they have a dismal record in handling the cases of violence against women but how the communities and society reacts towards it is much more significant. The reaction of the neighbors, larger family, religious leaders, prayer leaders, local mystics, influentials and elders, whose words hold importance, all constitute the overall society that matters to an individual and if there is no condemnation there and no adverse reaction then it is, in fact a tacit approval for the act. In this scenario the state and its organs can not work effectively in the prevention or control of the crime.

The shocking rapidity with which these crimes are occurring is a commentary on the overall deteriorating psyche of the regressive society in Pakistan generally and in Punjab particularly as majority of the crimes against women are being reported in Punjab. It is also a reflection on how the weak segments of the community are becoming more and more vulnerable with the traditional social protection networks deteriorating fast and the state being a total failure in providing protection to any of its citizens.

The society which does not show any abhorrence for horrendous crimes against humanity is a morally dead society. We are now living in a country of dead men walking. Oblivious to the blood and gore stories around them and in a state of self imposed trance. If there was any life left in them they would have protested for young Hina, for the seventeen year old Saima, for Najma. They would have protested for someone. But the silence is deafening. There is no one willing to take a stand for any of these women.

As for the ruling elite they are busy playing the fiddle like Nero and enjoying their super luxury lifestyles comparable to any oil rich Shiekh in the Middle East.

I want to ask all the leaders of the religious groups and parties the reason for this strange silence against the brutality of men slaughtering their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers. Why such abhorrence for women? What is preventing them from coming out in public and declaring “Fatwas” against the perpetrators and abettors of the crimes against women in the name of honour? How can a man justify his act by taking refuge in religious decrees against immoralities when he himself is committing murders?

As the sanctions for these crimes are inferred through the morality derived through religion, I beseech the Islamic scholars “The Ulemas” to come out of their inertia and play a positive role to save women from the blood bath going on. I beg them to pass their declarations, “Fatwas” now about men butchering women and clearly state where they stand in the scheme of things. Why can’t the Ulema use the power they have to pressurize the governments and mobilize public to rally the around this issue? Is it not also blasphemous that men are butchering women in a country where the love for the Prophet (SW) is sworn by all? What would the Prophet (SW) think of His faithful being silent spectators in the face of such brutality?

It is the obligation of the religious scholars to come out and declare the right of women with regard to their own marriage. Regarding a woman’s right to marry a person of her choice, a point that is relevant in Saima’s case, is a right granted to women by Islam and the constitution of Pakistan and upheld by numerous court judgments. All consensual marriages are perfectly legal and “Islamic”.

The blood of Shumaila, Hina, Allah Rakhi, Saima and Najma and all the slain women is calling every conscientious human being left in this country. Their blood will not run dry but will continue to seep in the earth staining every inch of this land until it becomes the Crimson Earth.

January 29, 2011
From SPN Newsletter.
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Canada: Victim’s family sues suspect in honor killing

By Scott Smith
Record Staff Writer
January 24, 2009 6:00 AM

STOCKTON – A man who awaits a murder trial on charges he gunned down his daughter’s former lover now faces a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court seeking $15 million on grounds he caused the man’s family emotional suffering.

Gurparkash Khalsa, 56, remains in jail charged with killing Ajmer Hothi, 23, on March 27, 2007.

Hothi’s mother found him shot to death in his big rig parked at a lot east of Stockton. Prosecutors say Khalsa committed the crime to restore his daughter’s honor.

Hothi’s Lodi family seeks the money to compensate for their loss and to send a message, their attorney Steven Brown said Friday.

“They want to make it clear that he needs to be held accountable,” Brown said. “They’re extremely distraught and upset.”

Brown filed the lawsuit Thursday in San Joaquin County Superior Court on behalf of Jasvir Kaur, Hothi’s widow; Avtar Hothi, his father; and Manjit Kaur Hothi, the dead man’s mother.

According to prosecutors, Khalsa stalked Hothi, who had dated Khalsa’s daughter and sought to marry her. The families of both men were members of the close-knit Stockton Sikh community.

Khalsa rejected Hothi’s bid to marry his daughter because Hothi was a trucker of a lower class, and Khalsa owned Pacific Coast Intermodal, a trucking firm based in French Camp, prosecutors have said.

Khalsa later learned that his daughter had aborted Hothi’s child.

The father then demanded the couple marry. But in the meantime Hothi’s parents had sent their son to India for an arranged marriage, according to court papers.

Prosecutors accuse Khalsa of tracking down Hothi and ambushing him in the cab of his big rig.

Hothi was shot nine times with a Beretta handgun similar to one Khalsa had registered years before, according to a police report. The gun was never recovered.

Khalsa’s attorney, Joel Carash, declined to comment for this story, citing the pending trial.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau seeks a life prison term for Khalsa.

Khalsa and his attorneys are due in court next month to ask a judge to dismiss the criminal charges ahead of the jury trial set for May.

Contact reporter Scott Smith at (209) 546-8296 or ssmith @recordnet.com.

recordnet.com

Violence against women in Balochistan increased in 2008

By Malik Siraj Akbar

QUETTA: Aurat Foundation, a non-governmental organisation working for women’s rights, has said violence against women in Balochistan intensified in 2008, but Baloch society still adopts a defensive attitude and justifies the killing of women in the name of honour and tradition.

In a dialogue with media representatives on ‘Problems in accessibility of information about violence against women’ on Monday, the organisation said Baloch women were victims of violence due to widespread illiteracy, entrenched tribal traditions, distorted interpretation of Islam and economic dependence of women on men.

Cases: The organisation said around 600 cases of violence against women were reported in 2008, which included the murder of 89 women in the first nine months of the year. At least 115 women were murdered in cases of honour killing. The reported cases included 255 incidents of women being subjected to domestic violence. People are unwilling to discuss the violence as a majority of Balochistan people justify such acts in the name of tradition, it said. In some other cases, violence against women in rural areas remains unreported in media because of inaccessibility of the area as well as the dominance of men in society, who believe the publication of reports of violence against women amounts to the disrepute of their respective tribes.

The year’s most disturbing news concerning the plight of women came from Naseerabad district in Balochistan, where five women were allegedly buried alive by tribal elders in the name of honour. Federal Minister Mir Israrullah Zehri and Senate Deputy Speaker Jan Muhammad Jamli defended the incident on the Senate floor and called it “a part of Baloch traditions” and the government failed to expose the culprits and the motives behind the killings. The Naseerabad killings still remain a mystery. “Violence against women is a global phenomenon. It takes place in different parts of the world under varying pretexts,” Aurat Foundation Balochistan Co-ordinator Saima Javaid said. She said, “Our biggest concern is that such violence is unabated, rampant and unnoticed.” Dostain Khan Jamaldini, a researcher, said various hurdles hindered objective reporting of women’s issues in the province. He said violence against women is not taken seriously or addressed at the community level.

Confront: Nationalist as well as communal sentiments and a colonial mindset confront those protesting violence against women. Political leaders remain defensive on the issue, and describe media and NGO reporting as an intrusion in internal matters and traditions. Similarly, communal segments of society dismiss such reports as Western propaganda against Islam. “We need to set our house in order before becoming defensive. The poor state of women’s rights is a bitter reality in our society and we cannot ignore this serious matter for long under different subterfuges,” Jamaldini said. The participants of the day-long dialogue agreed that print and electronic media could best highlight violence against women by describing it as a practice being promoted in the name of Islam and tribal traditions. Journalists and scholars should not use unqualified religious leaders as their primary source in write-ups and reports. Those who contend that Islam is responsible for the suppression of women and violence against women are oblivious to the true teachings of the religion. Islam gives equal status to women in the social, educational and economic spheres, according to one of the speakers.

Illahuddin Khilji, another Aurat Foundation representative, said gender discrimination towards women by male lawmakers, journalists and religious scholars contributed to ‘biased reporting’ of events, while their female counterparts often exaggerated the issues in their reports.

dailytimes.com.pk

‘Conviction rate merely one to two per cent’

Tuesday, January 06, 2009
By our correspondent

Karachi

The conviction rate in violence against women in Pakistan is not more than one to two per cent, Aurat Foundation Resident Director Anis Haroon said during the launch of a report about violence against women in Sindh in the last quarter of 2008.

“Out of 403 cases identified, 64 women and 19 men were killed in karo-kari (honour killing) in Sindh during the last quarter of 2008. Twenty-two women faced murder attempts, 60 women were kidnapped and 32 were injured. There were nine cases of domestic violence, 33 women committed suicide, 32 women attempted suicide, 19 women were raped, 12 were gang-raped, 11 faced sexual assault and 40 became victims of custodial violence. There were three cases of acid burning, eight women faced violence in the name of customary practices and eight were sold in the province,” Haroon said.

The report pointed out that despite the ban imposed by the Sindh High Court (SHC), as many as 30 jirgas were held in the province on women-related issues and 17 women and girls were given as compensation to settle tribal conflicts. Six cases were registered against jirga holders and parents and some of them were arrested.

The report said that the number of registered First Information Reports (FIRs) on violence against women during the period was 198. However, in 125 cases, FIRs could not be registered while in 31 cases, the status of FIRs could not be ascertained.

The report said that most of the accused were male members of the women’s families. Sixty-three of them were husbands, 65 were close relatives, five were brothers, four were cousins, two were uncles, and three were parents. Nineteen police personnel, five people persons from same tribes, 25 area residents, five neighbours, one son-in-law, five robbers, two lawyers, 10 members of rival tribes and five sons were also involved. In 83 cases, the relationship of the accused with the victim could not be ascertained.

In Karachi alone, 194 women and girls were raped or sexually assaulted during the last nine months. All these cases were reported to medico-legal officers (MLOs) but they were not reported in the media because in most cases, their FIRs were not established.

“Cases are not investigated if FIRs have not been established,” Haroon said. “There should be a one-window facility in rape cases since evidence is lost if a woman has to be produced at several places.”

She went on to say that police posts should be established in hospitals so that FIRs could be established there. Haroon said that the Aurat Foundation was not in favour of capital punishment, and other steps should be taken to punish criminals.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MPA Humaira Alwani said that as the fourth pillar of the State, the media was playing a positive role in highlighting the cases of violence against women. She said that every civil hospital in the province should have a female MLO. She agreed that women police stations should play a proactive role in apprehending people involved in violence against women.

Nusrat Saher Abbasi, an MPA from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that Pakistan has entered the 21st century but sadly enough “we were still witnessing violence against women”. She said that women have been allocated 33 per cent representation in assemblies and even though the PPP chairperson late Benazir Bhutto had zero tolerance for violence against women but the present government has failed to implement laws on this issue.

thenews.com.pk

Shaheed Bibi Sidra: Baghbanpura. Man guns down beloved, teacher, commits suicide

Thursday, December 18, 2008
By Our Correspondent

LAHORE

A MAN gunned down his beloved and her teacher before shooting himself dead in the Baghbanpura area on Wednesday.

Police said that the girl, identified as Sidra, daughter of Muhammad Siddique of Astana Naqshabandi Bazaar, had developed relations with one Noorul Ameen of the same area. Later, their relations ended due to unknown reasons.

Sidra used to get tuition from her academy teacher Qazi Najam Khan, a resident of Daroghawala, at his house. Accused Noor suspected that Sidra had developed intimacy with Najam. On Wednesday, he came to Najam’s house and shot him and Sidra with a pistol. Later, he also ended his own life by shooting himself. The accused used the pistol with a silencer and nobody could hear the gunshots.

When the principal of the academy, where Najam used to teach, came to his house, he found him lying dead along with Sidra and Noor.

Police recovered a note from the accused’s pocket, in which he disclosed that he had been having relationship with Sidra for the last three years and wanted to marry her but she developed relations with Najam. He further asked his family to donate his eyes to a blind person and lay him to rest at Dars Baray Mian graveyard.

The victim Najam is survived by five brothers of whom he was the youngest. He was residing in a rented house comprising three rooms. The Baghbanpura police have sent the bodies to morgue for autopsy.

thenews.com.pk

“Honour killing” punishable under Islamic law: Shariat Court

Shaheed Bibi Shamshida: Charthawal
Shaheed Bibi Farzana: Sarai Rasulpur

Muzaffarnagar (PTI): Close on the heels of three cases of suspected honour killings in the district, a Shariat Court here has ruled that such crimes should be treated as murder and are punishable under Islamic law.

“Islam does not permit illicit relationship, but killing a girl for this reason is a cold-blooded murder and is a serious offence under the Islamic law,” chairman of Shariyat Court Maulana Irfan Mufti Zulfikar said.

The court made this observation on an application moved by a social activist highlighting recent cases in which three girls were allegedly killed by their kin “to protect family honour”.

Killing of an innocent girl is a shameful act, members of the religious court observed.

Last month, a 17-year-old girl (Shaheed Bibi) Shamshida was killed allegedly by her brother Shamshuddin in Charthawal town for eloping with her lover who belonged to a different community.

Police arrested Shamshuddin who “confessed” to killing his sister Shamshida for “tarnishing the family’s name”, the police said.

On November 14, another girl (Shaheed Bibi) Farzana, 18, who had eloped with her lover, was murdered allegedly by her brother at Sarai Rasulpur village in the district.

hindu.com

Shaheed Bibi Hanifa: Ghotki, Sind

Ghotki DPO uncovers brutal murder of woman

(Shaheed Bibi Hanifa: Ghotki, Sind)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

By Imtiaz Hussain

KHAIRPUR: DPO Ghotki on Friday announced that he had traced the killers of a woman, who was murdered on the pretext of Karo-Kari.

DPO Javed Sonharo Jiskani told The News that Hanifa was brutally killed by her spouse four days ago in village Muhammad Ismail Mahar in the limits of the Yaro Lund Police Station of Ghotki.

He said the murder was secret and even the police did not take any notice of the gruesome murder. He said someone informed him on telephone about the incident, following which he conducted a comprehensive inquiry. DPO Javed said he found that Hanifa moved to Rahim Yar Khan to her sister’s home to take refuge from her husband, who had accused her of having illicit relations with her second cousin (husband of her sister), and wanted to kill her on this baseless charge.

He said a notable of the area Muhammad Ismail Mahar later intervened and guaranteed to Hanifa that her husband will not kill her and motivated her to return to her house. The DPO said the woman was killed allegedly by her husband and during the inquiry, he found that before killing the woman on the charge of Karo Kari, her husband Waryam also tortured her to extract confession that she had illicit relations with her second cousin. She was put in a ditch with threats that she would be buried alive if she did not confess.

Hanifa, however, refused to confess and her husband allegedly killed her and buried her body without funeral rites, the DPO said.

thenews.com.pk

Violence against women on the rise

Staff Report

LAHORE: Violence against women has risen in the Punjab during the third quarter of the year (from July to September) and almost twice the number of cases of violence have been reported during the third quarter as compared to the second quarter.

As many as 1,592 cases were reported throughout the province during the third quarter of the year.

In the first quarter, 546 cases had been reported while 828 cases were reported during the second quarter.

These figures were disclosed by The Aurat Foundation at the Lahore Press Club, a non-governmental organisation working for the rights of women. The Aurat Foundation attempted to gather details of the cases of violence, however, they were denied access to the data as it was confidential.

Statistics:
During the third quarter
508 cases of abduction
242 cases of murder
127 cases of rape
137 cases of suicide
120 cases of physical injuries
100 cases of gang rape
95 cases of torture
35 cases of attempted suicides
31 cases of sexual assaults
21 cases of honor killing
13 cases of burning
eight cases of attempted murder
155 other cases of violence

In 439 of the 490 cases of abduction that had registered a first information report (FIR), there was no information available about the abductor.

An outright majority of the murder cases had been committed by husbands. In 67 cases of murder, there was no information about the murderer.

The representatives of the Aurat Foundation said that the only way to curb rising violence against women was to strengthen the role of the civil society in all spheres of life. They laid emphasis on the need to lobby female parliamentarians and women councilors to raise their voices in their respective houses.

dailytimes.com.pk

Senate body rejects report on Balochistan ‘honour killing’

Regarding the case of the Five Shaheed BibiaN Who Were Buried Alive in July 2008.

By Tahir Niaz

ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s functional committee on human rights on Friday rejected an investigation report on the killing of five women in Balochistan for ‘honour’ as ‘ambiguous and incomplete’. The committee, which met under Senator SM Zafar, demanded the authorities form a body at the federal level ‘so that the situation becomes clear’. The committee said the report had complicated the case.

It also passed a resolution demanding police become a complainant in the case. The committee granted the police another month to complete the investigation into the killings. Zafar told reporters after the meeting there was a need to amend laws on ‘honour killings’. He said the committee would meet again to ‘thoroughly’ review the case of Tasleem Solangi, another alleged victim of ‘honour killing’. He also urged the government to try its best to free Dr Aafia Siddiqui from the United States custody.

Senator Talha Mehmood lamented the attitude of tribesman towards their female relatives, and called for ‘concrete measures’ to stop ‘honour killings’.

Balochistan Inspector General of Police Asif Nawaz said nine people had been arrested in connection with the killing of the five women in Balochistan.

dailytimes.com.pk

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