‘Deliberate distortion of the reality lived by Muslim women’ by Haroon Siddiqui

By:  Columnist, The Star. 

The two most cited reasons in support of Quebec’s anti-niqab bill are that the veil is an imposed oppression since no woman would ever voluntarily wear it and, second, that the province’s proposal to deny public services to niqabi women is far less punitive than the strictures imposed on non-Muslims in some Muslim countries.

The first proposition is conjecture. The second is misguided moral equivalency.

We can’t, and don’t, run Canada by the rules of theocracies. Ours is a secular democracy, in which all citizens are equal and must be treated as such – not as a favour to them but as a duty to our Constitution.

This is so obvious a point as to be moot. But it is not with those who argue, quite seriously, that since Iran discriminates against Baha’is and Jews, and Saudi Arabia does not allow non-Muslims to even hold public religious services, Canadian Muslims shouldn’t complain if their rights are trampled.

Controversies are the lifeblood of democracy but they also provide insights into public prejudices.

It is commonly assumed that Muslim women the world over are oppressed, so they must be in Canada as well. Even intelligent people, including some academics, routinely parrot that line, with zero proof.

Muslim women are oppressed all right. But are they any more so than others?

Take violence against women. Studies show that the phenomenon cuts across class, race, culture and religion. A World Health Organization survey found violence against women by spouses/partners to be “a common experience worldwide.” In Europe, “domestic violence is the major cause of death and disability for women aged 16 to 44, and accounts for more death and ill-health than cancer or traffic accidents,” according to Amnesty International. A quarter of American women are physically or sexually assaulted by a partner or a date, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Take women in leadership roles. The three most populous Muslim nations – Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh – have had women leaders. So has Turkey. Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto and Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia served two terms each. Compare that to Kim Campbell, who was prime minister for 4 1/2 months.

In Pakistan’s National Assembly, 76 of 342 members are women – 22.2 per cent, compared with Canada’s 22.1 per cent in the Commons. Counting all elected women at the federal, provincial and municipal level, Pakistan ranks well ahead of Canada, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Take post-secondary education. Several Muslim nations, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, are showing the same trend as in the West, where a majority of students are women.

Contrast all this to the relentlessly negative portrayal of Muslim women in our popular culture. And when this image is grafted onto Muslim women in the West, the picture gets further distorted.

A Gallup survey shows that Muslim American women are among the most highly educated female religious groups, second only to Jewish American women. They are more likely than American Muslim men to have college and postgraduate degrees and to earn as much. “As a group, Muslim Americans have the highest degree of economic gender parity at the high and low ends of the spectrum.”

I can’t find comparable figures for Canada but there is little reason to think it is much different.

A separate Gallup poll shows majorities of Muslim women around the world believe that women should have the same legal rights as men. They may not equate the bikini with liberation but their aspirations are not much different than those of women elsewhere. This is even more so for Muslim women living in the West.

Also, the general values of Muslims living in Europe and North America, both men and women, are the same as those of other citizens.

None of this is to deny the many horrors inflicted daily on Muslim women or that some Canadian women may be forced to wear a veil. It is only to say that the opposite assumption – that all or nearly all are oppressed – is stupid and dishonest.

As Pankaj Mishra, noted Indian essayist and novelist and a Hindu familiar with the plight of women of all faiths, writes:

“Almost every day, the media berate Islam, often couching their prejudice in the highly moral language of women’s rights: It is not due to oversight that Indian women murdered for failing to bring sufficient dowry, a staggering 6,787 in 2005 (and since reported at 8,093 in 2007), occupy a fraction of the print acreage devoted to the tiny minority of veiled women.”

Haroon Siddiqui is the Star’s editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears Thursday and Sunday.

hsiddiqui@thestar.ca

Originally Published at The Star.Com on Thu Apr 08 2010.

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Report updating status of female political prisoners in Evin prison

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Report updating status of female political prisoners in Evin prisonCommittee of Human Rights Reporters – At 33 detainees, the women’s ward at Evin prison has reached the largest number of prisoners in the past 3 years. Some of the prisoners are suffering with psychological and physical maladies while many have been deprived of their right to furlough.The new round of summons and arrests of political and civil female activists continues. In the past 2 months the number of female political prisoners has reached 33 as activists who had been detained during the events that took place after the contested presidential elections, have been summoned to serve their prison sentences. According to the detainees in the past years, the average number of prisoners in the women’s ward has been 28 and has never increased until now. In addition there is news that at least 10 more women will be transferred to this ward in the near future.Below is a list of the 33 female detainees who are being held in the women’s ward at Evin prison.

1) Basma Al Jabouri – Iraqi citizen accused of spying, 5-year prison sentence, has served one year.

2) Bahareh Hedyayat – Student and women’s rights activist, member of the student organization Advar-e TahkimeVehdat, 10-year prison sentence, has served about 3 years.

3) BehnazZaker – Arrested at airport about 4 months ago before a scheduled flight to Sweden and kept in prison in undetermined circumstance.

4) RaheleZokayi – Among the lesser-known prisoners, one-year prison sentence for “propaganda against the regime.”

5) Reyhaneh Haj EbrahimDagagh – Among the detainees of the Ashura mass protests in 2009, 15-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO, has served 3 years with no furlough.

6) JilaBaniyaghoub–Journalist and women’s rights activist, who has been behind bars for over a month. She was sentenced to one year in prison on the charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the leadership.” Her husband BahmanAhmadiAmoui is also a journalist who is behind bars in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. He received a 5-year prison sentence of which he has endured 3.5 years.

7) JilaKaramzadehMakundi – Political prisoner, poet and member of the Mourning Mothers of Laleh Park, 2-year prison sentence, has served about 11 months.

8) ShabnamMadadzadeh – Political prisoner charged with affiliation with MKO and handed 5-year prison sentence. Arrested in February 2009 and has spent 3.5 years behind bars without the right to furlough.

9) Shiva NazarAhari – Human rights activist who was handed a 4-year prison sentence by the court. She was transferred to prison about a month ago. Previously, she spent over 100 days in solitary confinement and 9 months in women’s Ward 209 (Intelligence Ministry’s Ward), and 3 months in the women’s general ward of Evin prison.

10) SedighehMoradi – Political prisoner charged with affiliation with MKO, handed 10-year prison sentence of which she has served one year.

11) SoghraGholamnezad – Political prisoner who was transferred to the women’s ward at Evin about 3 months ago. She is serving a 2-year prison sentence handed by the Revolutionary Court on charges of affiliation with MKO.

12) FaezehHashemi – Political prisoner who was transferred to Evin 2 weeks ago to serve 6-month prison sentence.

13) FaribahKamalabadi – Baha’i prisoner who was an administrator at “Yaran-e Iran”, a Baha’i organization. She has been kept behind bars since her arrest in 2006. She was handed a 20-year prison sentence of which she has served 5 years without her right to furlough.

14) FaranHesami – Baha’i citizen with 5-year prison sentence. This mother of a 3-year old toddler was transferred behind bars about 3 months ago. Hesami was arrested when she went to Evin Prison’s Sentence Enforcement Unit to obtain a power of attorney for her incarcerated husband. Her husband Kamran Rahimian is an educator at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (Baha’i Online University), serving a 4-year prison sentence at Rajai Shahr prison, on charges of “membership in the Baha’i community,” and “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security.”

15) KobraBanazadehAmirkhizi – political prisoner handed 5-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has served 4 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

16) KefayatMalekMohammadi – 60-year-old citizen arrested in 2009 during Ashura mass protests, charged with MKO affiliation, 15-year prison sentence of which she has served 3 years behind bars.

17) LadanMostofiMaab – Political prisoner with 2.5-year prison sentence, has served 2 years and 3 months without any furlough.

18) LevaKhanjani – Baha’i citizen banned from continuing her education, appeared at Tehran’s Evin Prison on Saturday, August 25, 2012 to begin serving her 2-year prison term.

19) MahboubehKarami – Political, women and human rights activist sentenced to 3 years in prison by branch 54 of the Revolutionary Appellate Court on February 2, 2011. She was charged with membership in a human rights organization, “propaganda against the regime,” and “gathering and collusion with intent to harm national security.” She has spent one and a half years in prison.

20) Maryam AkbariMonfared – Political prisoner with 15-year sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has been in prison since her arrest 3 years ago without her right to furlough.

21) Maryam Jalili – Christian convert with 2.5-year prison sentence on the charge of changing her religion. She has spent about a year in prison without her right to furlough.

22) MotaharehBahrami – Detained in 2009 during Ashura protests. She was handed a 10-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has spent about a year behind bars with no furlough.

23) MitraZahmati – Christian convert with 2.5-year prison sentence on the charge of changing her religion. She has spent about a year in prison without her right to furlough.

24) ManijehNajm Iraqi – Women’s rights activist, member of Iranian Author’s Club, worked as interpreter and author. Revolutionary Court handed a one-year prison sentence of which she has spent 5 months behind bars. She was charged with membership in Iranian Author’s Club and publishing their work. The allegations made against her were based on taking part in events for Mohammad Mokhtari, Mohammad Ja’farPouvandeh, AhmadShamlou.

25) ManijehNaserAllahi – Handed 3.5-year prison sentence on charges of following the Baha’’i faith. She has spent 2.5 years behind bars with only 3 days on furlough.

26) MahsaAmirabadi – Handed a 2-year prison sentence of which she has spent 5 months behind bars. Her husband MasoudBastani is a journalist also behind bars serving a 6-year prison sentence in Rajai Shahr prison. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “collusion to disrupt national security.”

27) MahvashShariyati – Behind bars since 2008, serving 20-year prison term on charges of following the Baha’i faith and membership on board of Yarane Iran, which is a Baha’i organization.

28) NazaninDeyhimi – Transferred to prison about 2 weeks ago to serve 4-month sentence stemming from charge of taking part in post-election protests.

29) NegarHaeri – Political prisoner who was detained about 3 months ago and has been held without being charged. Her father MashaalaHaeri is serving a 15-year prison sentence behind bars in Raja’i Shahr prison on charges of affiliation with MKO.

30) Nasrin Sotoudeh – Lawyer and human rights activist serving 6-year prison sentence. She is also barred from practicing law for 10 years. She was charged with “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the regime,” and “membership in a human rights organization.” She has spent 2 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

31) NasimSoltanBaygi – Journalist and student activist handed 3-year prison sentence on charges of following the Baha’i faith. She has spent 1.5 years of her sentence behind bars.

32) NoushinKhadem – A lecturer at the Baha’i Science Institution, handed a 4-year prison sentence for being a follower of the Baha’i faith. She began serving her sentence on September 16, 2012.

33) HaniyehSanehFarshi – Political prisoner and blogger, 7-year prison sentence on charges of blasphemy, propaganda against the regime, acting against national security and insulting Islamic sanctities. She has served 2.5 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

According to information obtained by Committee of Human Rights Reporters, in the next few days another 10 women will be transferred to Evin prison. With the new wave of prisoners about to enter the facility and the many unknown prisoners who have not been listed in the news, it is predicted that the women’s ward in Evin prison will be over capacity. With the arrival of cold winter months and the lack of adequate medical care for political prisoners there is serious concern about the deficient conditions that the prisoners will have to endure.

..

‘Countering intolerance’ by Shandana Khan Mohmand

From Dawn.com

A FEW years before the Nazi government arrested him in 1937 and sent him to a concentration camp, Martin Niemoller, a German theologian, spoke the powerful words that have come to epitomise the guilt of the bystander who watches in silence as those around suffer.

He lamented how he had not spoken up as they came first for the communists, then the unionists, and then the Jews. Finally when they came for him, “there was no one left to speak out”.

Pakistan has arrived at a point where ‘they’ have come for the Ahmedis, the Christians, the Hindus, and the Shias. It has come to a point where we need to speak out because at some point they will come for even those that are not part of a minority community.

They will come for you either because you are a Barelvi, a Deobandi, a woman, an intellectual, a liberal, the wrong ethnic group, or simply someone who does not agree with the worldview of those who are armed and have no compulsions against killing a fellow human being. But what is the most effective way to speak out? What will make a difference?

The simple answer, of course, is that we need to learn to be more accepting and tolerant of each other. But while noble, this is a generally useless suggestion because there is a large difference between being intolerant and actually pulling people off a bus, identifying them as Shias and then murdering them for that simple fact.

What takes a person from general intolerance towards others to actually killing people for their belief? I do not have an answer to that, but I do know a few things that contribute.

It contributes when murderers like the Taliban are allowed to get away with it. Not bringing perpetrators publicly to justice in courts that speak out clearly in favour of protecting every single citizen — regardless of caste, creed and religion — contributes
to making the next incident possible.

It contributes that in attack after attack, a few of which have been on their own bases, we do not see the police or the army going after the outfits that sponsor these.

It also contributes that in its official documents the state continues to divide us all into religious categories. What, and whose, purpose does this serve?

It contributes when public figures do not speak out loudly and regularly in favour of minorities and against the violent crimes that they suffer.

It contributes that electronic media is not awash with dramas, public service messages and talk shows promoting an understanding of minority cultures and beliefs, the value and beauty of diversity, and the idea that there should be no ‘us’ and ‘them’ within Pakistan.

It certainly contributes that the career of television anchors does not suffer terribly when they publicly convert members of minority communities to Islam on their shows. And despite popular belief, it is not a lack of education that contributes to this, but rather, the content of our educational curricula that appears to be responsible.

I discovered in my research in rural Pakistan that the person in the village with active membership of a sectarian organisation was never the uneducated farm labourer, but rather the schoolteacher.

The only person that I met who told me he had participated in a religious protest was a man with an FA degree who had travelled to Lahore to protest against the Danish cartoons. As we strive to educate more and more of our population without a review of what we are teaching them, where can we expect to head?

So, how do we speak out? Maybe the answer lies in becoming intolerant as well. We need to become vocally intolerant of religious groups that seek to organise people on the basis of differences and preach violence against others.

We need to become intolerant of the army’s strategic games, and of the fact that deals are struck with those that kill openly and thump their chests publicly to take responsibility for it.

We need to be intolerant of political parties that cosy up to the army and tow its line of negotiating with murderers. We should be intolerant of a state that requires us to reveal our religion in official documents.

We need to be intolerant of a system that is seen to go into hyper-drive to weaken an elected government, but that allows known religious fanatics to walk free for lack of strong evidence.

How do you express such intolerance? By getting our politics right. Withdraw support for the judiciary when it lets a terrorist go. Push the political party you support to have a clear stance against those that kill minorities, and do not vote for those that
make excuses for terrorist outfits.

Change the channel when talk show hosts insist that the real problem is another country, politicians or corruption, all the while defending those that kill the name of religion.

Write to channels to demand that there be more programmes on issues that affect minorities. Use social networking sites, newspapers and public protests to reduce divisions within Pakistan. Refuse to identify yourself with a religion or sect when asked to do so.

And on a personal level, stop trying to match your children with a spouse of the same sect, biradari, or class. Embrace diversity and the possibility that that will only make you less insulated and less inbred.

Do this before they come for you.
..

The writer is a researcher of political economy.

From
Dawn.com

Pointed to by Hoori Noorani

..

‘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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PAKISTAN: “An unforgiveable sin”

LAHORE, 3 January 2012 (IRIN) – The murder of infants, particularly girls, by poverty-stricken parents in Pakistan appears to be on the rise.

Late at night two months ago in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, the parents of a two-day-old infant girl smothered the child, and then buried her tiny body in a distant field, carefully patting down the soil to hide any signs of digging. The mother cries often and says she still has nightmares about the event.

“I cried myself; I had delivered the baby and she was perfectly healthy. But her parents had two daughters already, and felt they couldn’t afford another. The father, a labourer, earned only 4,000 rupees (US$46.50) a month, and I know those people ate just once a day,” Suriya Bibi, a `dai’ or traditional midwife from the village, told IRIN.

According to Anwar Kazmi, a spokesperson for the charitable Edhi Foundation, more and more bodies of infants are being collected from the streets. “I would say there has been a 100 percent increase over the past decade in the number of bodies of infants we find. Nine out of 10 are girls,” he told IRIN.

Girls are traditionally considered a `burden’ on families, with large sums frequently spent on their marriages. “People feel girls make no economic contribution to families,” Gulnar Tabassum, a women’s rights activist, told IRIN.

Kazmi said 1,210 bodies of dead infants were found last year – compared to 999 in 2009.

“The reasons are linked to mindset and to poverty,” he said. While the Edhi Foundation places cradles outside the orphanages it runs, and urges people to leave babies in them rather than kill them, only a few choose to do so.

According to the Foundation, about 200 babies are left each year in the 400 cradles it puts out nationwide with signs urging parents to use them.

Since children born out of wedlock in this conservative society are at greater risk of infanticide, the Foundation encourages the placing of such children with responsible surrogate parents.

“These children are innocent,” said Kazmi.

No accurate statistics

The Foundation also collects its data mainly from larger cities. It is unknown how many other deaths may be taking place in rural areas, or regions in the tribal areas and Balochistan and Sindh provinces where official figures show poverty is highest.

The mothers themselves wish to save the children but they also see the economic struggle of their families in a time of growing inflation. “The number of tiny babies we bury is increasing. In some cases the neck or wrists have been slashed open,” said Muhammad Taufiq, a gravedigger in Lahore.

“I have had women who are pregnant come to me crying, because their husbands or in-laws say any baby born must be killed since they cannot raise it. I can do little to help, since abortion is illegal in the country, and for various cultural reasons the use of birth control is far too low, though many woman want to use it,” said gynaecologist Faiqa Siddiq who works at a charitable clinic for women.

According to data from the Federal Bureau of Statistics reported in the media, non-perishable food items saw price rises of 11.83 percent in the year to November 2011. Other percentage increases during the year were: tomatoes (42.02), spices (36.37), fresh fruit (29.62), betel leaves and nuts (24.56), condiments (23.50), milk (21.11), milk products (20.47), beverages (19.79), cooking oil (19.56), and meat (19.35).

“Times are becoming harder and harder. I have just given birth to my fourth child. We will do all we can to raise the children, and murder of course is an unforgivable sin, but sometimes I understand the despair of parents who do so,” said Safia Bibi, a washerwoman whose husband is an odd-job man.

The family earns a monthly income of Rs. 6,000 ($70). “The children go barefoot because just feeding them is next to impossible. We survive mainly on `roti’ [bread] and pickles,” she said.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

http://www.irinnews.org/Report/94574/PAKISTAN-An-unforgiveable-sin#.T7fmZ2rPWyE.facebook
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Violence by cop at Nairang Art Gallery: Curator attacked for wearing sleeveless

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious alarm and disgust at a policeman ‘raiding’ a renowned art gallery in Lahore

Lahore, August 03: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious alarm and disgust at a policeman ‘raiding’ a renowned art gallery in Lahore, beating the woman curator there and harassing others on the premises.

HRCP said in a statement: “HRCP is appalled by the vigilante actions of the Shadman Police Station House Officer (SHO), who visited the Nairang Art Gallery in Lahore on Tuesday, brutally assaulted the woman curator there, accusing her of running a place of fahashi, and harassed others present at the gallery. The SHO’s merciless beating of a woman is something that cannot be expected of any civilized human being and is all the more revolting because the offender is an officer of a force tasked with protecting people from the sort of excesses he committed. The policeman had no warrants, nor any legal authority to barge into the art gallery like he did along with a police party, which advised the curator to leave the room after her beating rather than intervening to save her from the assault.

Excesses by policemen are hardly an anomaly in Pakistan but since when have policemen assumed responsibility of the Taliban? HRCP sincerely hope that its revulsion and contempt for the policeman’s actions is shared by the Punjab government and hopes that a case would be promptly registered against the offender, and that he would be effectively prosecuted for his repulsive actions. Lack of due punishment for such uniformed vigilantes would only encourage others to follow suit. HRCP also urges the government to make a formal apology to the curator for the actions of a government agent.”

Zohra Yusuf
Chairperson
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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
comms@ncsw.gov.pk
www.ncsw.gov.pk

Rape of a Christian woman by an officer of Inter Services Intelligence Agency‏

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-085-2011
28 April 2011

PAKISTAN: A Christian woman was raped for four days; the rapist identified himself as a senior officer in the Inter Services Intelligence Agency

ISSUES: Abduction; illegal detention; rape; violence against women; religious minorities

SEND AN APPEAL LETTER

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a 24-year-old Christian woman was abducted and raped for a period of four days in different cities by a person who identified himself as a serving Major in the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) agency which is the intelligence wing of the Pakistan Army. A First Information Report was filed but the police have been unable to arrest him. After releasing the victim at the Faisalabad, Punjab province, railway station he threatened her that if she told anybody about the rape he would involve her parents in a bomb blast case.

Please send an urgent appeal to the authorities to arrest the rapist and initiate an enquiry into the involvement of an army officer in the abduction and rape of a Christian woman.

CASE NARRATIVE
Ms. Sehar Naz, aged 24, from Christian Town, Faisalabad, Punjab province, works as a sales officer in the State Life Insurance, a government insurance company. She was going with her area manager and sales manager in their car to attend a conference on 14 April 2011. As the car reached the circuit road near the Serena Hotel crossing a person in a black shirt and trousers stopped the car and introduced himself as Arif Atif Rana, a Major in the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). He was standing with a traffic police official and asked the occupants of the car to show their identity papers. As he received the identity card of Sehar Naz he told the insurance officers that a call has been received by him against Sehar and that he wanted to take her for investigation. The insurance officers tried to prevent this but he threatened to kill them for interfering with his official work.

The insurance officers quickly lodged a police report on the same day at Civil Lines Police Station, Faisalabad, that she was abducted by an army officer who claimed that he was a Major in the ISI. The police lodged the FIR (First Information Report) with number of 454/11, but, as is common, did not pursue the case because of the involvement of the ISI.

Major Rana took her on his scooter to different places and then to his house in Samanabad, Faisalabad. He kept her at that location for two days and then took her to Lahore, the capital of Punjab province and raped her in his custody on each of these four days. On 18 April he dropped her at the Faisalabad railway station and threatened her that if she told anyone about the rape he would arrest her parents in a bomb blast case. He went on to say that it is easy to book Christians in any case.

When she was released her parents and the Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice & Peace Faisalabad office took the victim to record her statement before the police, (which was recorded on 19 April) and according to Ms. Naz the rapist was from the ISI and claimed to be of the rank of Major. The police then issued a certificate for a medical examination which proved that she had been sexually assaulted. She again confirmed to the police investigation officer, Assistant Sub Inspector Basheer that Major Atif Arif Rana had kidnapped and raped her at gun point but the police have made no move to arrest him.

SUGGESTED ACTION
Please send the urgent appeal by clicking blue button and sending faxes to the authorities calling for the prompt action in the case of rape of a Christian woman by a Major in the Inter Service Intelligence agency, the ISI, for four days at gun point while he kept her in illegal detention. Please also urge them to initiate an enquiry into the case. Medical treatment and compensation should be afforded to the victim for her rehabilitation.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Violence against Women and Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment calling for their intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:
SEND AN APPEAL LETTER

Baseer Naweed
Senior Researcher
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Unit 701A Westley Square,
48 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong,
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR China
baseer.naweed@ahrc.asia
Tel: (852) 2698 6339 Ext 113
Fax: (852) 2698 6367
Mob: (852)6402 5943

www.humanrights.asia
www.humanrights.asia/countries/pakistan
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ASIA: Unabated violence against women impedes social change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-037-2011
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.

# # #

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.

PAKISTAN: A woman health worker raped and forced by police to withdraw her complaint‏

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAC-048-2011
28 February 2011

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ISSUES: Rape; violence against women; impunity; rule of law

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a lady health worker, a government employee, was raped by a notorious gangster with the help of two police informers. The First Information Report (FIR), a criminal case for legal proceedings was lodged by the police intentionally after five days of the attack in order to destroy the evidence. The police, instead of filing a rape case, filed a case of attempted rape so that perpetrators could not be tried for committing the heinous crime. The high raking police officers of the concerned district are coercing the victim to settle the case with perpetrators.

The alleged rapist was arrested for attempted rape but the police informers, who restrained the woman and who had beaten her during the rape, are enjoying the protection of the police.

CASE NARRATIVE:
Rehana Malik, 30, a lady health worker at Civil Hospital, Digri town, Mirpurkhas district, Sindh province, also an employee of the health department of the government of Sindh, was raped in her house while her husband was out for his daily job. On December 9, 2010 at 8 pm three police informers and gangsters entered her house, locked her children in a room and one gangster, Gulzar Arain, who is known to run a drug den, overpowered and raped the victim with the help of two police informers, Shahid Jat and Shoukat Jat. The attackers also injured her during the rape and stole Rs. 85,000. (USD 1000) and jewelry of the same amount. The perpetrator, Arian raped her while the two accomplices held her hands and legs for the rape. After the rape the attackers threatened her that if she went to the police she would be raped in an open place.

However, after the incident she went to Digri police station at 9.30 pm where she was told by the station house officer (SHO), Mr. Zulfiqar Khoso that as it was night nobody could record her statement and to come back the next day. She returned and spent the whole next day trying to file her report but in the evening was told that she should go back to home and the police station would send someone to see her. In the meanwhile news of the rape was reported in the media. The police telephoned her to come to the house of Haji, an influential person of the town. There she found that police officials were also present. Haji and police officials pressured her to accept Rs. 10,000 (USD117) as compensation which she refused. One of the police officials, Munawar, the assistant sub inspector (ASI) took her signature on a plain paper forcefully saying he would make an application on her behalf. She asked the police officials to file a case of rape so that she could have a medical report.

It was only after five days of her rape, on December 13, that the FIR was filed. However, the FIR only mentioned that it had been an attempted rape. The report that Rehana had made mentioned that the accused person, Arain, actually raped her but this version was rejected by the SHO. The police cleverly deleted the names of the two other police informers from the FIR. She was given permission to have her medical checkup but as per their intention, any evidence of the assault had then been lost. On December 14, the SHO of Digri police station visited her house and pressured her to withdraw the case of rape against the perpetrators otherwise she would face problems for her family. On January 21, 2011, a human right activist, Hasrat Leghari, had written an application on behalf her to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the president, the prime minister and other authorities. On February 22, she was asked to come to police station and record her statement. But once again the police refused to take her statement and created their own. In the meantime the accused person, Arain, was arrested on the charges of attempt to rape her but the two police informers were not arrested. An application from the victim was moved to the Session Court of Mirpurkhas district that the police were providing protection to the perpetrators. On receiving her application the session judge rejected the bail application of the accused person.

On February 26, Mr. Zulfiqar Mehar, the district police officer (DPO), the highest police officer of the district, also tried to coerce her to withdraw the case and said she would not get any positive response in the case. He further told her that the perpetrators would take revenge against her in the future.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Mrs. Rehana was working as health officer in Digri town at civil hospital since 2006 and has become popular in the neighbourhood for her work. Gulzar Arain, the gangster and police informer had been stalking her since 2009 whenever she went out for field work. He demanded that she have sex with him otherwise she would face dire consequences. On November 22 the accused person came to her house in the absence of her husband along with the two police informers, Shoukat and Shahid, and threatened that if she did not agree to have sex with him he would come and rape her so that she could not be able to show her face to the people. She reported this to the police but in typical fashion the police told her to come back if and when the crime was committed as before that they could not go against him.

Her husband is a labourer and has to go to another town for his job.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letter to the authorities to take action against the police officials of Digri town and the district police officer (DPO) of Mirpurkhas district for providing protection to the perpetrators of the rape. Also urge them to provide protection to the victim and her family and prosecute the perpetrators.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of violence against women calling for his intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: A lady health worker raped and forced by police to withdraw her complaint

Name of victim: Mrs. Rehana Malik, wife of Gulhassan, a lady health worker, resident of Digri town, district Mirpurkhas, Sindh province

Names of alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Gulzar Arain, police informer and gangster, resident of Goth Ganga Ram (goth Bagan wali), Digri, Sindh province
2. Mr. Shaukat Jat, police informer, Resident of Goth Ganga Ram (goth Bagan wali), Digri, Sindh province
3. Mr. Shahid Jat, police informer, Resident of Goth Ganga Ram (goth Bagan wali), Digri, Sindh province
4. Assistant Sub Inspector, Munawar, Digri police station, Digri town, Sindh province
5. Sub-Inspector Zulfiqar Khoso, Station Headquarter Officer (SHO), Digri police station, Digri town, Sindh province
6. Mr. Zulfiqar Mehar, District Police Officer (DPO), Mirpurkhas, Sindh province

Date of incident: 9 December 2010
Place of incident: Digri town, Mirpurkhas district, Sindh province

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the rape of a lady health worker by a police informer and his accomplices and the support that the police are providing to the perpetrators.

I am appalled to know that a lady health worker of government of Sindh was raped by the police informer and gangsters but police have taken no action and not a single man was arrested on the rape charges. The two accomplices of the accused person are free and threatening the victim. The high police officials including DPO are using their official positions to influence the victim to withdraw her case against the perpetrators. This is very shameful act by the police whose duty is to protect the citizens from crime.

Rehana Malik, 30, a lady health worker at Civil Hospital, Digri town, Mirpurkhas district, Sindh province, also an employee of the health department of the government of Sindh, was raped in her house while her husband was out for his daily job. On December 9, 2010 at 8 pm three police informers and gangsters entered her house, locked her children in a room and one gangster, Gulzar Arain, who is known to run a drug den, overpowered and raped the victim with the help of two police informers, Shahid Jat and Shoukat Jat. The attackers also injured her during the rape and stole Rs. 85,000. (USD 1000) and jewelry of the same amount. The perpetrator, Arian raped her while the two accomplices held her hands and legs for the rape. After the rape the attackers threatened her that if she went to the police she would be raped in an open place.

However, after the incident she went to Digri police station at 9.30 pm where she was told by the station house officer (SHO), Mr. Zulfiqar Khoso that as it was night nobody could record her statement and to come back the next day. She returned and spent the whole next day trying to file her report but in the evening was told that she should go back to home and the police station would send someone to see her. In the meanwhile news of the rape was reported in the media. The police telephoned her to come the house of Haji, an influential person of the town. There she found that police officials were also present. Haji and police officials pressured her to accept Rs. 10,000 (USD117) as compensation which she refused. One of the police officials, Munawar, the assistant sub inspector (ASI) took her signature on a plain paper forcefully saying he would make an application on her behalf. She asked the police officials to file a case of rape so that she could have a medical report.

It was only after five days of her rape, on December 13, that the FIR was filed. However, the FIR only mentioned that it had been an attempted rape. The report that Rehana had made mentioned that the accused person, Arain, actually raped her but this version was rejected by the SHO. The police cleverly deleted the names of the two other police informers from the FIR. She was given permission to have her medical checkup but as per their intention, any evidence of the assault had then been lost. On December 14, the SHO of Digri police station visited her house and pressured her to withdraw the case of rape against the perpetrators otherwise she would face problems for her family. On January 21, 2011, a human right activist, Hasrat Leghari, had written an application on behalf her to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the president, the prime minister and other authorities. On February 22, she was asked to come to police station and record her statement. But once again the police refused to take her statement and created their own. In the meantime the accused person, Arain, was arrested on the charges of attempt to rape her but the two police informers were not arrested. An application from the victim was moved to the Session Court of Mirpurkhas district that the police were providing protection to the perpetrators. On receiving her application the session judge rejected the bail application of the accused person.

On February 26, Mr. Zulfiqar Mehar, the district police officer (DPO), the highest police officer of the district, also tried to coerce her to withdraw the case and said she would not get any positive response in the case. He further told her that the perpetrators would take revenge against her in the future.

I am shocked to know that police are turning the case into attempt to rape just to save the police informer and drug peddlers. These types of crimes are happening daily in Pakistan because there is no effort from the government to make reforms in the policing system and make it accountable in the law. The police find it easy to manipulate the cases in their own favour to save perpetrators.

I urge you to prosecute all the police officials who are turning the case of rape in to attempt to murder and threatening victim to take back her case. Please also provide security and protection to the victim and her family and also register a case of rape against the perpetrators.

Yours sincerely,

—————-
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9204801/9214171
Fax: +92 51 9207458
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

2. Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9221596
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

3. Syed Qaim Ali Shah
Chief Minister
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 2000
E-mail: pppsindh@yahoo.com

4. Mr. Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

5. Mr. Muhammad Ayaz Soomro
Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs & Criminal Prosecution Service
Sindh Assembly Building,
Court road, Karachi, Sindh province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9211982
E-mail: secy.law@sindh.gov.pk

6. Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar, Karachi
Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220
E-mail: info@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk

7. Ms. Nadia Gabol
Minister for Human Rights
Government of Sindh,
Pakistan secretariat, Barrack 92,
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9207044
Tel: +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043
E-mail: lukshmil@yahoo.com

8. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

9. Inspector General of Police
Police Head office, I. I. Chundrigar road
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9212051
E-mail: ppo.sindh@sindhpolice.gov.pk

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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