Shaheed Bibi Ghazala Javed: Peshawar Pakistan – June 18/12

Shaheed Bibi Ghazala Javed was a renowned singer and a brave woman, who despite being in an extreme conservative social environment, was continuing to follow her glorious career that had earlier required for her to escape Taliban by moving from one area to another. As well, she was demanding a divorce from her influential and polygmous husband.

Pushto singer Ghazala Javed shot dead

PESHAWAR: A popular Pakistani singer who fled the Taliban to pursue her music career away from their repressive dictats was shot dead in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police said Tuesday.

Ghazala Javed, 24, was shot six times by gunmen as she left a beauty salon, although police do not believe the Taliban was responsible for her murder and said her ex-husband was a suspect in the case.

Her father, who was with her, was also killed, police said. “Two men on a motorbike sprayed bullets and fled leaving them in a pool of blood,” senior police officer Dilawar Bangash told AFP. She was shot six times and her father once in the head, Bangash said.

“We have registered a case and launched an investigation. The murder seems to be result of some internal dispute,” he added. Police official Imtiaz Khan said the ex-husband was suspected of involvement in the murders.

The singer had fled to Peshawar in 2009 to escape the then Taliban-dominated northwestern district of Swat as the army launched a sweeping offensive.

From 2007 to 2009, Taliban fighters controlled by radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah effectively seized control of the district, terrorising people with murders, beheadings, attacks on girls’ schools and music shops. Singers and dancers were singled out in particular until the army reasserted control in July 2009, winning praise from the United States for eliminating an Islamist threat 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the capital Islamabad.

Javed sung in her native Pashto language and released more than two dozen albums that were popular among Pashto speakers in the northwest. She married businessman Jahangir Khan in 2010, but demanded a divorce after finding out he had another wife and because he tried to ban her from singing, the family said. It is rare for women in the deeply conservative northwest to solicit a divorce and under Islamic law men can have up to four wives at once.

Information pointed to by Ismat Shahjehan

Status of World’s Women – Report 2011-2012

“Progress of the World’s Women 2011-2012: In Pursuit of Justice”‏ by UN Women.

By Myra Imran

Raising numerous serious questions regarding lacunas in the prevalent justice systems around the world, the UN Women launched its first major report titled ‘Progress of the World’s Women 2011-2012 — In Pursuit of Justice’ in Pakistan on Friday.

Presenting a comparative analysis of global statistics, the first major report following the organisation’s launch in early 2011, mentions that justice remains out of the reach of millions of the world’s women. It says Domestic violence is outlawed in 125 countries of the world but globally, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.

Laws based on custom or religion, which exist alongside state legislation, frequently restrict women’s rights within the family, in marriage, divorce and the right to inherit property. “Much has been achieved in the private and public spheres in the last century. Yet discrimination and gender injustice remain prevalent around the world.”

The report says that 117 countries have equal pay laws yet, in practice, women are still paid up to 30 per cent less than men in some countries and women still do more unpaid domestic and caring work than men in every region of the world.

It points out that globally, 53 per cent of working women — 600 million in total — are in vulnerable jobs, such as self-employment, domestic work or unpaid work for family businesses, which often lack the protection of labour laws.

Highlighting another such dimension, the report says that by 2011, at least 52 countries had made marital rape a criminal offence. And yet, over 2.6 billion women live in countries where it has not been explicitly criminalized.

It mentions that in countries where there have been steep increases in women’s representation in Parliaments, progressive laws on women’s rights have often followed yet there are still less than 30 per cent of women in parliament in the vast majority of countries. It further mentions that donors spend US$4.2 billion annually on aid for justice reform, but only 5 per cent of this spending specifically targets women and girls.

The report also recognises the positive progress made and says that 139 countries and territories now guarantee gender equality in their constitutions but it also shows that too often, women continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality in their home and working lives.

To ensure justice becomes a reality for all women, UN Women calls on governments to repeal laws that discriminate against women, support innovative justice services, put women on the frontline of justice delivery and invest in justice system that can respond to women’s need.

It stresses the need to ensure that legislation protects women from violence and inequality in the home and the workplace and demands innovative justice services such as one-stop shops, legal aid and specialised courts, to ensure women can access the justice to which they are entitled.

The report says that across the board, existing laws are too often inadequately enforced, the report finds. Many women shrink away from reporting crimes due to social stigma and weak justice systems. The costs and practical difficulties of seeking justice can be prohibitive — from travel to a distant court, to paying for expensive legal advice. The result is high drop-out rates in cases where women seek redress, especially on gender-based violence.

The thought provoking and colourful launching of report was attended by a large number of women right activists, representatives of civil society organisations, lawyer’s associations and law enforcing agencies. Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza was the chief guest on the occasion.

Others who spoke at the event included Federal Ombudsperson for Harassment Act Mussarat Hilali, President Lawyers for Human Rights Zia Awan, AIG Islamabad Ehsan Sadiq and Country Director UN Women Alice Shakleford.

The speakers stressed the need for collaborative efforts to create an enabling environment for women in pursuit justice. They pointed out that enough legislation has been formulated in Pakistan for women in past few decades but the real issue is the effective implementation of these laws. They also demanded elimination of discriminatory laws.

Besides formal speeches made by the guests, the event included an interactive session with the stakeholders and poetry recitation by UN Gender Expert Salman Asif who read some of the very fine verses by eminent social worker Bilqees Edhi urging everyone to feel for women in distress and help them.

Another unique feature was the audio of inspiring stories of women survivors played for the guests. These women faced extreme forms of violence against women but were brave enough to fight back and become a role model for others.

Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza said that no system can claim to be democratic and participatory if it fails to include and address the issues concerning its women. She said that women’s pursuit for justice stretches back beyond recorded time to the myths and legends told by ancient seers in all cultures and civilisations.

“Societies were always hesitant in accepting them on a par with their men. It is high time that we make our society realize that gender roles, inequities and power imbalances are not a ‘natural’ result of biological differences, but determined by the systems and cultures in which we live.”

She highlighted the efforts of Pakistan People’s Part to bring women in the lime light at every level. She said that in the last three years of its 5-year tenure, the women Parliamentarians ran 60 per cent of the business in the National Assembly and the government has passed 77 bills in which more than a dozen relate to women and children.

“Laws hold a critical balance in shaping societies although they alone cannot bring a change in mindsets. No government, no matter how democratic in nature, can bring about a revolution on its own if it is not backed by a strong and committed public opinion,” she opined.

She said that Pakistan will hold the seventh meeting of the Women Speakers of Parliaments around the world in November this year, where the women speakers will focus on making parliaments more gender sensitive. At the Saarc Speakers Conference in Delhi, she has also proposed the creation of a Saarc Parliament which could allow the Parliamentarians of the region to jointly address issues of social injustice, the speeding up of the MDGs and the realization of an equity-based gender-balanced mutually beneficial Saarc community.

Saturday, July 30, 2011
National Commission on the Status of Women-Pakistan
Government of Pakistan
Phone: +92-51-9224875,9209885

ASIA: Unabated violence against women impedes social change

March 8, 2011

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the International Women’s Day

ASIA: Unabated violence against women impedes social change

For 100 years now, a strong struggle for equal rights between genders has been taking place in the world. International women’s day is the opportunity to celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements. It is the day to acknowledge the enormous potential of women in service of the prosperity of their communities and the core societal role they have to play for peace and political and economic development in their countries. Having educated and empowered women actively participating in every sphere of the public life of their country has for long been acknowledged as the key to development and prosperity in all the countries of the world. Discrimination against women has been formally recognized as a violation of human dignity and as riding roughshod over the concept that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights. Nevertheless, in numerous corners of the Asian region, direct and indirect violence and discrimination, under various forms continue to oppress women and prevent them from fully achieving their potential for change. Through 2010 and since the beginning of 2011, the Asian Human Rights Commission has been aware of numerous cases of such oppression. The diversity of Asia clearly illustrates that the formal recognition of equal rights without discrimination based on gender and criminalization of gender-based violence has failed to materialize in practice. Violence against women is sometimes justified through the evocation of tradition and religion and is exploiting the weak rule of law framework of numerous Asian countries to the advantage of the male-dominated society. It is used to control the behaviour of women, prevent them from freely taking part in public debate and continuously undermines the expression of women’s potential for change in Asia.

The Global Gender Gap Index of 2010 offered a clear overview of the disparities which exists in the Asian region with regard to the country level of advancement in terms of equality of rights and opportunities between genders. The Philippines and Sri Lanka rank respectively as 9th and 16th out of 134 countries in terms of gender equality, mostly due to the achievements of those two countries in reducing the gender-gap in education and health while Pakistan ranks the third worst country in the world in terms of gender equality. Thailand ranks 57th globally but ranks among the best countries in terms of maternal health and 36th in terms of economic opportunity for the women, with women representing the majority (51%) of the non-agricultural labour force, a rarity in the Asian context. The gender situation in Bangladesh and Indonesia is less optimistic: ranking respectively as 82th and 87th. The scores of both countries are increased only by the fact that they have women as their head of State, but their scores in terms of economic empowerment, access to education and health are very low. Closing this ranking are India (112th), Nepal (114th) and Pakistan (132th) with extremely important discrepancies between genders in all spheres of life.

In a number of Asian countries patriarchal cultural and religious traditions are invoked to systematically control women’s lives, their free will and even their bodies and hamper the full realization of their potential. In India, discrimination rooted in gender prejudices that foster stereotypical roles for the girl child and women is one of the reasons for the poor state of affairs of women. The concept of purity and submission superimposed upon women by cultural and religious practices, restrict their access to education and limits their freedom to choose the employment of their choice. The continuing practice of demanding and paying dowry, though prohibited by the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 limits the parents’ interest to educate a girl child.

Another example is the common practice in some communities in Pakistan that at the time of birth of a girl, she is declared engaged to be married to a boy which will prevent the ‘engaged’ girl from freely choosing her future as her fate is sealed from the day of her birth.

Similarly, honour killings remain a strong issue in South Asia. The women being seen as carrying the honour of the family can be murdered if a family or the community considers that she is following a path different to what was expected of her. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women die each year in honour killings worldwide. However, the actual number is likely to be much higher as the cases largely go unreported.

Another example of religion or tradition being invoked by the community to control the lives of the women was seen in a case reported in August 2010 from Sri Lanka. A husband was forced by community members of the local mosque to sign a document agreeing to the punishment of his 17-year-old wife for having given birth to a child as a result of an extra-marital relationship. The woman, who was sick, was then beaten 100 times with the hard centre stem of a coconut frond.

Similarly, in Bangladesh, the Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women expressed its concern in February 2011 that “despite the High Court’s decision that the extra-judicial punishments, fatwas, are illegal, there are reports of illegal penalties being enforced through shalish rulings to punish “anti-social and immoral behaviour”. In January 2011, a 14-year-old girl was “lashed to death” following a punishment given by a village court consisting of elders and clerics under the Shari’ah law, after being accused of having an affair with a married man.

In some countries the “traditions” invoked to maintain the women in a state of oppression benefit from the support of the authorities, like in Pakistan, or are even reflected in the legal framework like in Aceh where some of the criminal laws are based on the misinterpretation of the Shari’ah. A 2010 report by Human Rights Watch “Policing morality” on the law related to “seclusion” which makes association with a unmarried member of the opposite sex a criminal offense punishable by caning and a fine and to public dress requirement, two of the five Shari’ah laws in Aceh, revealed that these laws are abusively implemented by the authorities and document cases of aggressive interrogation, including beating of the suspects, forcing the suspects to marry and forcing women and girls to submit to virginity examinations as part of the investigation.

The Jirga courts in Pakistan oppress women’s rights and, though illegal, are tolerated or even supported by the authorities. Jirgas deny the equality between women and men, apply corporal or capital punishments upon women whose behaviour is seen as deviating from traditional standards and lack standards of fair trial. In July 2010, a woman was condemned to stoning to death by a Jirga merely for having been seen as walking alone with a man. In May 2010, a young couple was marked for death by a Jirga that included police officers because the woman had denied a suitor selected by her family in favour of her husband, who came from outside of the tribe. Despite an eventual Sindh High Court ruling in favour of the couple, community members and police continued to persecute the couple and the groom’s family. Legal and social complicity results in near impunity for those who continue to abide by the Jirga rather than law and perpetrates honour killings. The government has not been seen to take any sort of action to pronounce the Jirgas’ ruling as illegal and to dismantle them by taking action against the individuals engaged in running them.

Those cultural and religious representations remain strong obstacles in the way of women who want to take an active part in the future of their communities. Even in countries which are trying to achieve a 33% representation of women in the Parliament, such target remains very hard to reach; Nepal being the only Asian country to have achieved that goal so far. Women seeking emancipation are the target of those who want to maintain the patriarchal order of the society and see female emancipation as a direct threat to their own power and social status.

Acid attacks in Bangladesh and Pakistan against women who dare to say “no” to a marriage or a relationship are a case in point. Threats and harassment against women human rights defenders in Nepal further show the society resistance to those seen as challenging the established social order.

In some countries, women are considered as simple chattel that can be exchanged to maintain the relationship between families; to settle conflicts or a commodity that can, more simply, be sold. In February 2011, the AHRC documented a case of marriage which was opposed by the 70-year-old father of the bride in Pakistan. As “compensation” for the marriage and the loss of his daughter, the father demanded the barter of a girl from the groom’s family.

In South Asia, cases of dowry disputes and dowry deaths also reveal the value placed upon a woman’s life. These are cases where the groom’s family claims that they had not received enough material benefits to accept the woman into the family. Those claims may result in assault, mental and physical harassment of the bride, and ultimately, in her killing.

Further, Asia continues to suffer from a massive phenomenon of trafficking in women. In many cases the authorities cooperate with trafficking rings and brothels were women are kept, effectively imprisoned for sex work. Due to the irregular immigration of trafficked women, the victims often have no legal status in the country where they are trafficked to and risk detention should they try to escape or lodge a complaint with the local authorities. In Thailand, sex workers are particularly at risk of exploitation and stigmatisation with cases of arrest and humiliation commonly reported, while rape cases of women sex workers are not properly dealt with.

All the cases mentioned above clearly show a pattern that, although the attitude of state actors is primordial in dealing with cases of violence against women, the functioning of law enforcement agencies in practice reflects the patriarchal values of the society and further contribute to oppress the women. The systematic failures of the criminal justice systems have been exploited by perpetrators to deny justice and protection to the victims of gender-based violence and to maintain the women in a situation of vulnerability. For instance, in almost all the countries in Asia, authorities at all levels of the judicial system have denied assistance and justice to rape victims and protected the perpetrators, resulting in a de facto “decriminalisation of rape”. Victims of rape and gender-based violence seeking legal redress face harassment, threats from the authorities and community members and often the courage required to confront such obstacles to get justice is only rewarded with impunity for the perpetrators. This starts from the moment the victim makes the complaint of rape. In almost all of Asia there are incidents of police officers refusing to accept the complaint, forcing the victim to negotiate a settlement with the perpetrators or in specific countries even to marry the perpetrators.

Collusion between the perpetrators of rape and police officers is common. Further, the social stigma surrounding rape and women filing cases in the police station and economic dependency of women are the most important of all obstacles hampering the women’s access to redress.

In a case in Nepal last July, the police took the rape victim in custody twice at the demand of the perpetrators which resulted in having all the physical traces of rape disappear. In Sri Lanka, in January 2011, the family of a 23-year-old physically and mentally disabled rape victim was forced by the police to accept monetary compensation from the perpetrator as a settlement for the case. In Pakistan, in December 2010, a woman was raped by a local gangster with the help of two police informers and was forced by the police to withdraw her complaint. In India, women face additional risks at the hands of law enforcement officers than their male counterparts due to the risk of sexual harassment and even custodial rape. In a case reported on 1 February this year, once again from Assam state, the police officers assaulted and sexually abused a woman and her mother when the officers came to their house in search of a male suspect. In this case too, the police have refused to register a case against the accused despite written complaints.

These cases, from different corners of Asia, illustrate that protecting the right of women is intrinsically linked to the state of rule of law in the country, in particular to a sensitisation of the police and to the introduction of accountability within the ranks of law enforcement agencies.

All over Asia, the situation of women belonging to communities which are traditionally marginalized and discriminated against deserves a special mention as those women will be exploited at several levels with even less access to judiciary and state institutions than women belonging to the dominant majority in the country.

In India and Nepal for instance, women belonging to the Dalit or tribal communities are more vulnerable to rape as their lives and dignity are seen as less valuable and they have less access to judicial institutions. Nepal has also recently seen an increase in cases of isolated women, often widows and often from the Dalit community, being trashed, violently beaten, tortured and forced to eat human excreta after being accused of “witchcraft” by villagers. The Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) has documented 82 such cases within two years. In Pakistan, women from religious minorities are targeted, abducted and forcibly married to convert them to Islam. It is estimated that 20 to 25 Hindu girls are abducted each month and forcibly converted to Islam. In March 2010, the family of a 17-year-old Hindu girl who was kidnapped by three influential Muslim brothers and raped by one of them, was pressured into accepting her wedding to her rapist and her conversion to Islam by a jirga. Judicial and police inaction went as far as arresting the victim’s father under a fake case and intense pressure from ruling party members and local landlords prevented the family from seeking further assistance.

The targeting of women from marginalized castes or classes or religious and ethnic minorities is not an aimless and insignificant act; on the contrary it has calculated implications and impact. Raping or abusing the women aims at not only destroying the victim but also, through her, the community. Rape and violence against women has become an instrument of power in the hands of the dominant majority. The victimization of women from marginalized castes or classes contributes to the maintenance of power and the domination of “upper” classes or castes while the victimization of women from minorities, religious or ethnic, aims at destroying the whole structure of that community, integrating them into the “mainstream” majority through the destruction of their identity. This aspect is particularly evident in the case of Burma, where women from ethnic minorities are the target of systematic, state-induced campaigns of rape and other forms of sexual abuses by soldiers in order to “spread the blood” of the ethnic majority and to humiliate and oppress. “Licence to Rape”, a June 2002 report by the Shan Women’s Action Network documented 173 cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence, with 625 Shan girls and women victimized by Burmese soldiers from 1996 to 2001 and showed that rape was condoned as a weapon of war from the Burmese state in order to subjugate and control ethnic minorities. Documentation by women’s groups shows that such cases of rape; torture and killings of women continue unabated in other areas of ethnic conflict.

More generally speaking, women in areas of conflict suffer from specific abuses and often find themselves deprived of any legal remedy; in the South of Thailand, women are facing unrest and loss but have not been provided any kind of remedies. The Victim Protection Scheme is inappropriately implemented, which deprives the victims seeking justice with any kind of remedy. In Nepal, during the decade-long conflict, the women faced gender-based violence and sexual violence but such victims have remained invisible and absent of the government relief programmes and compensation schemes for conflict victims, a joint report by Advocacy Forum and the International Center for Transitional Justice found.

Gender bias is also visible in larger issues like poverty and malnutrition. For instance, in South Asia and South-East Asia, in both urban and rural poverty, often the direct victim of poverty and malnutrition is the women and/or the girl child. In most cases reported by the AHRC, the pattern shows that it is the mother and the girl child which face the worst brunt of poverty.

Women therefore suffer from multi-layered, multi-facetted discrimination and forms of violence in Asia. The malfunctioning of the rule of law framework is exploited by those who want to prevent women from playing a major role in the public sphere.

Nevertheless, throughout Asia, women continue to gather, organise and defend their rights and the rights of their community. The fight of those thousands of anonymous women not only contributes to the promotion of the “rights of women” but also to the advancement of democracy in their community as a whole.

In countries where reservations were made to ensure the representation of women in elected bodies, especially at the local level, women have been able to make use of such arenas to raise concrete issues of tremendous importance for the community, such as access to water.

In Nepal, women have played a tremendously important role in the popular uprising of 2006 which lead to the end of the conflict and the establishment of democracy in the country. Similarly in India, it is a woman, Ms. Iron Chanu Sharmila of Manipur, who has today become the beacon of hope and peace. Sharmila has undergone a ten-year-long fast in protest against the ongoing violence and impunity in India, committed both by the state and non-state actors. The state attempted to stifle her protest by keeping Sharmila in arbitrary and solitary detention in a hospital room for the past ten years in which she is force fed through a nasal tube. In Burma, it is also the fight of a woman, Aung San Suu Kyi that has become the incarnation of the hopes for peace, human rights and democracy of the people. In Sri Lanka, women activists and lawyers are taking a great role in the fight against torture and support to the victims. In Pakistan, it is a woman parliamentarian who had the courage to deposit a law in the Parliament seeking to amend the Blasphemy law under which religious minorities face persecutions.

On Women International Day, the AHRC calls for comprehensive action, from all forces of the society, to create the conditions for women to fully express their potential for better change.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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.

‘Conviction rate merely one to two per cent’

Tuesday, January 06, 2009
By our correspondent


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.

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.

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.

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.

Islam Says ‘No’ to Domestic Violence

The perfect couple

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Wonderful. No need for formal introductions, you know exactly who they are.

You see them at the market when you pick up your weekly goods — that adorable pair with the seemingly perfect marriage. They met in college and fell in love. He swore he couldn’t live without her, nor she him.

Their families were hesitant, but they didn’t care. Their wedding was the talk of the town — white procession horses, silk Damascus cushions, and pristine attire with intricate designs made to match those on the seven-tier cake.

Their walks in the park are observed my many in the neighborhood; how ardently he gazes at her and how content she appears in the company of his embrace.

At parties, no one can doubt their compatibility; her kind face composed with bliss and serenity balances his modest appearance and confident smile.

The perfect home, the perfect life, the perfect couple indeed. That is, perfect from where the public sees.

Behind the closed doors of their humble abode, however, lies a different story, one that is not spoken about at parties and gatherings nor displayed during peaceful walks in the park.

It’s the story of anger and heartache, sadness and guilt, anxiety and frustration.

It’s the story no one wants to hear, and everyone avoids admitting. It’s the story of an endless struggle of domination shadowed with bitter pain for which there seems no remedy.

It’s the story of a stressful marriage fueled by financial plunders, uncontrolled tempers, inconsistent communication, and lack of understanding.

It can be triggered from just about anything — a foul remark towards a significant other, the helpless cries of a hungry infant, or even the bitter taste of a piece of burnt toast served for breakfast on a Saturday morning — and can lead to the unexpected.

It begins with a war of words; a small meaningless quarrel evolving into a battle of control.

A slap across the face ignites the tempers; firm on contact, it provides the perpetrator with a blaze of relief while the victim succumbs to a blaze on the cheek.

A push here and a shove there follow, sometimes resulting in a broken arm or bleeding lip.

Pulling the hair and elevating the voice to chilling decibels of fury supply the right amount of intimidation while a burn next to the delicate eyebrow subdues any sensation to retaliate.

The victim hopes that a scream of anguish will pacify the incident; but then again, it may just aggravate it even more.

The noise subsides and the victim slowly moves toward a mirror — its time to survey the damage.

A bright red bruise on the elbow and a slicing burn mark next to the left eyelid; not too bad this time around, nothing that can’t be covered with a little makeup or a long sleeve shirt.

The finale convenes at last with a few sweet-nothings and an apology from the perpetrator. The victim sympathizes and they resort for a solemn night’s sleep, both fully aware that the incident will repeat itself again the very next day.

Every 15 seconds a woman is abused in her home. “Not in my community” one may say.

However the truth is, everyone at some point has spoken to someone in their life who has been a victim of abuse, whether or not you knew of it at the time.

You may not even know her name, only because she is too ashamed to admit it actually happened to her.

But she is a victim and she is out there — in your community, on your street, maybe even in your own home.

It has become the crime without a face and the sin without a penalty.

Why? Perhaps its existence isn’t acknowledged the way it should be; perhaps it remains too hidden from our view; perhaps its complexity makes it difficult to comprehend; or perhaps we’re just too busy to care. But undeniably, it is there.

The sour truth

Domestic violence affects all types of people and discriminates against no religious denomination or ethnicity; from the well known to the unheard of, from the prosperous to the helpless. It is the rotten fruit of the Muslim community.

Imagine peeling back the skin of a bright gold banana and seeing that unappetizing rotten brown spot. As you stare at it relentlessly, it begins to suppress your taste. You feel betrayed, for who would’ve expected such an appalling interior to such a perfect exterior? The flesh made it look so delicious, the smell made it seem so sweet, the texture made it appear flawless. But once the peel is shed, the damage is visible; it must be dealt with in some way — it must be rid of before it makes you sick.

Domestic violence must be dealt with in an appropriate way in order to educate, provide assistance, and prevent future occurrences in those who suffer. This devastating social crisis affects men, women and children across America as it hinders physical, social, and psychological functioning in well being and daily life.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund describes it as “a pattern of purposeful behaviors, directed at achieving compliance from or control over the victim.” Domestic violence has a theme of recurrence involving cycles of outbursts and regret by both parties.

It affects both women and men. According to researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, abuse is a learned behavior that is intentional in order to gain control over another person. Abusers often tend to deny their behavior by rationalizing it, excusing it, or worse, blaming the victim for its cause.

Infants and children in these families are the most vulnerable. Ten percent of victims are pregnant at the time of abuse and 10 percent report that their children had also been abused by the batterer.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir of ISSA states that “the majority of battered women have children who are hurt physically and emotionally by the violence in their homes. More than half the children whose mothers are battered are likely to be physically abused themselves.”

During the last decade, domestic violence has been identified as one of the major causes of emergency room visits by women. Nationally, domestic violence has become the number one cause of death among women. Although research on domestic violence in the Muslim community is still ongoing, social advocates do not deny its predominance. A study done in the 1990s revealed a prevalence rate of 10 percent in the Muslim community, though advocates believe the numbers are much higher.

Islam says “no”

Domestic violence is common in Muslim marriages and has often been viewed as a permissible act by Muslims and non-Muslims alike due to misinterpretations that Islam supports the “subordination of women.”

Misinterpretation of Qur’anic passages have undoubtedly led to many misunderstandings about abuse in Islam. Western stereotypes have only enhanced those misunderstandings in a post 9/11 world.

“Violence against women is not an Islamic tradition,” said Shaikh Junaid Kharsany of Inglewood’s Jamat-E-Masijidul Islam. “Allah mentions, ‘And those women you fear their mischief, then counsel them, and distance from them in the beds and hit them, if they obey then you don’t have a path to them.’ (Qur’an, 4: 34). This applies when the wife of a person is guilty of major religious transgression such as adultery or theft and she is out of her bounds. A man is first advised to counsel her, then distance himself from her and finally to hit.”

“But in order for any [verse] to be understood, it has to be interpreted via the teachings of Prophet Muhammad,” Kharsany explained.

“The Prophet, commentating on this [verse] mentioned if it comes down to the last stage, you may hit ‘darban qaira mubarrih’ (such a shot that does not injure, bruise or leave a mark). When a man does wrong, his wife is not expected to beat him. He will be dealt with by his community. Too many people view this as a permit to use unregulated force. This is a cultural thing that stems from society allowing men to get away with actions unchecked. It stems from unjust favor showered on many males by their parents, giving them a false sense of superiority. If a man has not followed the guidelines shown in the [verse], he is an oppressor. If his action results in injury, he is an oppressor.”

Maintaining the happiness of a family is the solid foundation of Islamic morals. A husband is advised to find and appreciate the agreeable traits in his wife rather than focus on her faults. Prophet Muhammad equated perfect belief with good treatment to one’s wife when he said: “The most perfect believer is one who is the best in courtesy and amiable manners, and the best among you people is one who is most kind and courteous to his wives.”

Support is out there

Though their voices may be silenced and their stories often untold, Muslim victims of domestic violence will be surprised to learn that help for their wounds is as close as making a trip to an established Islamic center, contacting an agency like NISWA or ACCESS or picking up the phone and calling a help hotline.

Kharsany often sees victims of domestic violence who seek assistance from such Islamic Centers.

“Muslim victims of abuse should approach a religious leader they can trust or a reliable chapter of an Islamic organization like ISNA or ICNA,” he said. “I cannot guarantee how their case will be handled, but they will be educated on the legal and religious options available to them. Situations are more difficult when there is substance abuse or mental illness involved, it might warrant getting the authorities involved as well.”

Kharsany feels that victims will often limit police involvement because they think situations can be resolved in other ways or that they were brought forth from prior diminutive situations.

“Most victims are women, although an increasing number of men are complaining of this situation,” Kharsany said. “The number of men could be higher; however being considered a wimp is a factor in a man’s life.”

Seeking assistance at a local mosque is just one way in which victims can receive the guidance and support needed for protection. Local community organizations such as ACCESS California Services also provide a network of resources and social services for those who are in need.

ACS was founded by Nahla Kayali who had a passion to help the Muslim and Arab Communities in finding necessary resources pertaining to social services, immigration, health, employment and domestic violence. ACS reaches out to countless families in the southern California region who are in need of such support venues. Rida Hamida, the director of the organization’s new Counseling and Support program was herself a domestic violence victim. She feels there is a great need to give back to the Muslim-American community.

“People think domestic violence is just physical, but it’s psychologically and financially abusive as well,” Hamida said. “The perpetrator is not always the typical bad guy — he can be the charming good-looking man you see walking down the street. I was told I couldn’t have my own bank account or that I couldn’t finish my education. I was disconnected from my family and from my rights.”

“That’s what domestic violence does to you — your spouse embeds thoughts in you that make you question yourself and disregard your own judgment. It wasn’t until I filed for divorce that I realized what oppression was.”

Hamida, who received her education from UCLA with the Department of Social Welfare, joined ACS four months ago, working as a social worker. She provides families with a non-judgmental atmosphere while being culturally sensitive to their needs and stories.

“Empathy is the most important value a social worker practices when working with the victims,” Hamida said. “It’s something they may not always receive from families or Islamic centers. My having experienced domestic violence first hand has allowed me to establish a rapport with my clients. We want to empower them, make them feel like survivors and validate their worth.”

As an Arab-American, Muslim social worker, Hamida understands the necessity of safety first when it comes to working with the Arab and Muslim community.

“Victims need to feel a sense of safety when reaching out for help and that is why we provide them with options and resources that validate their concerns,” she said. “I try my best to empower those who are victims. It’s very hard to hear them say, ‘I deserved it.’”

ACS immigration attorney, Akram Abusharar, assists victims with applying for protection for legal status when their spouse uses their immigration status as a way to manipulate the victim into staying in the relationship.

“We refer to shelters, assist with social services, and assist them with applying for restraining orders,” he said. “As for the perpetrators, many of them are referred to our agency to receive counseling and anger management.”

Hamida is working on implementing protocols at each mosque in the area that provides a domestic violence assessment, as well as a bridge between ACS and the mosques for more supportive services.

Hamida collaborated with Shaikh Yassir Fazaga of the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo to discuss ways in which to educate the community about the severity of domestic violence in the Muslim community.

In accordance with October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, ACS, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Islamic Center of Hawthorne hosted a program educating the community about symptoms of domestic violence, the legal process, and the Islamic and cultural perspective.

ACS recently received The Community Incubator Award from UC-Irvine for the work they do with the Arab and Muslim community.

“A lot of Arabs and Muslims don’t want to work with our communities. I find that to be the reason why our community is not as strong as it should be,” Hamida said. “If we just put our criticisms aside it will empower our community members to support each other. This is the great thing about [ACS]. We have the ability to say ‘I can help you’ without creating stigmatization cross barriers; we remain culturally competent while catering to the needs of every individual.”

Law firms and community projects — a Muslim in new territory

It’s not everyday that you see a woman in a headscarf walking the corridors of the Los Angeles Superior Court. That all changed, however, when 25 year-old Samina Husain arrived as a passionate volunteer to assist victims in the Domestic Violence Project. Founded 20 years ago at the Pasadena Courthouse, the Domestic Violence Project is sponsored by the LA County Bar Association and assists nearly 6,000 victims each year.

It aims to provide pro-bono legal services to needy victims and helps them prepare any legal documents such as filing a petition for a restraining order.

Husain is a graduate from Rutgers University with a degree in political science and captain of the EMT squad in New Jersey. She looked into opportunities to volunteer and came across the Domestic Violence Project through the LA County Bar Association Web site and immediately took initiative to contact them.

“It’s sad because domestic violence is very much prevalent in our community too,” Husain said. “Unless Muslims are willing to accept its existence and the pertinence in addressing it, we won’t get anywhere towards resolving it. We need the leaders of our community to talk about the social ills in our Ummah.”

Husain also emphasized the need for education by distributing pamphlets and holding seminars.

Husain’s supervisor and director of the Domestic Violence Project, Deborah Kelly, agreed.

“During the course of my being a part of this project, I have never seen a Muslim victim. Or perhaps they come and we don’t know their Muslim; either way, it’s not something we would normally ask,” Kelly said. “We try to be sensitive to the woman’s situation because we want to empower them. I just hope more Muslim women can become aware of the services available to them.”

Both Kelly and Husain urged more participation from the Muslim community in order to bring down cultural barriers and generate awareness of the services that are available. “You don’t see a lot of Muslims volunteering in these types of arenas,” Husain said. “It’s great da’wah and more people should do it. But more importantly, it will provide an intimate space for Muslim women who are victims to domestic abuse to communicate in a comfortable manner with someone who understands their religion.”


Domestic violence is very much a preventable conduct and victim or not, everyone must play their part. According to the Orange County Department of Child Support Services, potential victims should be on the lookout for behaviors such as hitting, pushing, threatening, humiliating, isolating, damaging goods, withholding money and assets as signs of domestic violence. It is also important for families and friends to be alert of any unusual behaviors they see among partners and to notify the authorities, a shelter, or a hotline given the severity and longevity of the situation. It’s very easy to look away when witnessing a quarrel break out between a husband and wife – especially in a public arena; often people don’t want to embarrass others or come off as nosy. However, one must accept that this may come at the risk of harm reaching another innocent individual who may not have the means or stamina to speak out on their own.

Marriage preparation education and premarital counseling can also help future spouses learn skills that will assist them in developing a healthy, violence-free family life. “Both genders are equally guilty of this abuse. No one can look into a crystal ball and see the mindset of a person under stress prior to commitments like marriage,” Kharsany said.

“Most importantly, people should recognize that going into marriage is like learning how to drive a car. You must have the proper training and tools needed to make sure you avoid an accident. I advise young people to attend marriage workshops before making serious decisions. It’s important to understand what the role of a partner is in a marriage and what each party needs to do to placate versus fuel a stressful situation if it arises.”

Classes in leadership development and self-defense, and study in the area of communication and relationship psychology to learn about what healthy relationships look like may prove to be extremely beneficial.

In addition, anger and stress management, decision making and problem solving skills are also very important life skills that can help prevent domestic violence. Workshops are offered in various shelters and Islamic centers throughout southern California.

Sabeen Shaiq Flores works for the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum in San Francisco. They provide training and resources to other organizations as well as to conduct research studies on the topic.

The APIAHF received funding from the National Institute on Justice to conduct a research study on help seeking efforts by Indian, Pakistani, and Filipino women who have experienced domestic violence.

Their purpose is to see how the criminal justice system and health officials have been treating such women and what improvements can be made to make it easier for the three populations of question.

“The Muslim community can address the topic by addressing the topic,” Shaiq-Flores said. “Talk about it; the more you talk about it, the less intimidating it is to deal with it. I have heard too many people giving harmful advice to women experiencing abuse or making false assumptions. It is never a women’s fault.

Muslim men need to act like Muslim men — have patience, be loving, be kind, and if they can’t handle it then they need to leave the woman and divorce her.”

Most importantly, Muslims must encourage victims of domestic violence to seek help, whether it is spiritually or professionally. “To any victims of domestic violence in the Muslim community, I want you to know that you’re not alone,” Kelly insisted. “Services are available to you. You don’t have to tolerate being abused, ashamed, or embarrassed — it’s not your fault.”

For more info about domestic violence and ways to reach out, educate and prevent, visit:

Editor’s Note: InFocus published an article in July 2005 on the issue of domestic violence. We felt it was important to follow-up on such an important topic affecting the community.

To read the original article, go to:

Shaheed Bibi Shahnaz and Shaheed Bibi Safna Aziz: Islamabad, Pakistan

Man kills wife, daughter

Khadijah Shah

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN: A man on Thursday shot dead his wife and daughter, and injured another daughter for ‘disobeying’ him, and then committed suicide here in Golra.

Police believes the killer, Azizur Rehman, a Karachi-based employee of a private security company, had returned home a few days ago. They alleged Aziz had left behind a note that states that he had killed his wife Shahnaz Bibi (40) and daughter Safna Aziz (16) for ‘defying his orders despite repeated warnings’.

The killer’s younger daughter Saba Aziz (12) has suffered serious bullet wounds. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where her condition is stated to be out of danger.

Police shifted bodies to PIMS for autopsy.

Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)

Shaheed Bibi Tahira Naheed Tabbasum: Pakistan/Denmark, June 19/08

Man affirmed ‘Proclaimed Offender’ in Danish wife assassination case

Khadijah Shah

KHARIAN, PAKISTAN: A man, who plotted the murder of his wife, has been declared a proclaimed offender by the Additional District and Sessions judges.

The case had been submitted in the court of Additional district and session Judge Kharian on August, 15 2008. During the proceedings, the prosecution lawyers Baqar Ali Naqvi, Ali Ashtar Naqvi and Arshad Javed Chugtai pleaded that arrest warrants for Shahbaz be issued and in case of non-appearance, he should be declared a ‘proclaimed offender’ and to then bring charges against him under the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code.

According to details, a woman named Tahira Naheed Tabbasum was murdered on June 19, 2008 in village Jura, Kharyan, District Gujrat. Tahira was born and brought up in Denmark. She had relatives in Jura village, and in line with the customs of the family and in obedience to her father, she agreed to marry within her relatives. She came to Pakistan ten years back to contract marriage with Shahbaz Ahmad, and then returned to Denmark. She sponsored and brought her husband to Denmark within two years of their marriage.

The couple had two daughters and a son. The son died in childhood. The age of the daughters now is 8 and 6 years.

Shaheed Bibi Tahira Naheed Tabbasum had life insurance in Denmark, and also owned property in both countries. It appears that her husband brought her to village Jura in Pakistan for the purpose of usurping her property but on the pretext of acquiring an ‘Islamic education for the girls’. As well, sources believe, he was interested in marrying another woman in Denmark, and wanted to get the first wife out of his way.

He came to Pakistan in the month of April, took into confidence his father Bashir Ahmad and brothers Faisal Bashir, Sheraz Bashir and Muhammad Nawaz, and offered them a share in her property in exchange for their help in killing her. After that, the husband went back to Denmark to prove his non-involvement with the planned murder of his wife. However, he was constantly in communication with his father and brothers over the phone.

On the fateful night of June 19, 2008, Shahbaz’s father and brothers entered the room of Shaheed Bibi Tahira Naheed Tabbasum and opened fire at her, killing her instantly.

On October 15, 2008, the trial court after recording the statement of the process server, declared Shahbaz a proclaimed offender. His everlasting warrants were issued with the directions to the SHO concerned to put the name of the culprit in POs’ list. The court also ruled that he is preceded under section 512 CrPC and the evidence recorded in his absence would be used against him as per law, whenever the PO accused would be arrested.

It is to be noted here that Shahbaz is the person who masterminded the murder of his wife to grab her property. In this connection, the Interpol and the Nordic Police Liaison office, Islamabad is constantly contacting Gujrat DPO Tahir Alam to issue them the prescribed form in compliance with the court order, so that International Red Notice could be issued against the culprit to bring him in the custody of the local police.

Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)