By Fauzia Rafiq
Aurat Foundation has released numbers for the First Quarter of this year, January to March 2008: 91 days. Just for now, i will count them 90 in honor of the 90 Shaheed Women who were reported to be killed for ‘honour’ in these three months.
90 ‘Honour’ Killings…
This is somewhat the picture that emerges from this report:
Each Day in Pakistan
1 woman is killed for honour (read ‘male honour’)
4+ women are murdered (‘murdered by men’)
2+ women are abducted (‘abducted by men’)
1+ women are injured in ‘domestic violence’ (‘wife assault, daughter assault, sister assault, daughter-in-law assault, sister-in-law assault’)
Each Week in Pakistan
4+ women are raped
1+ women are gang-raped
5+ women commit suicide
2+ women face ‘custodial violence’ (‘sexual, physical, psychological abuse by officials while in police custody’)
2- women face sexual assault
1+ women are burnt (‘burnt with kerosine oil’)
Each month in Pakistan
1 woman faces acid attack
This is how a month looks like
30 women are killed for male honour
122 women are murdered
82 women are abducted
39+ women are injured in ‘domestic violence’
20 women are raped
6 women are gang-raped
22 women commit suicide
11+ women face ‘custodial violence’
8 women face sexual assault
5+ women are burnt
Women Are A Colonized Population in Pakistan
This is 152 women killed every month; and, 193 women abducted, battered, raped, gang-raped, violated in police custody, sexually assaulted, acid attacked and burnt. No wonder 22 women choose to end their lives each month.
Where 367 women are killed/assaulted/raped/humiliated each month, the entire population of women of that country is subjected to a minimum of 367 violent, cruel and gender-biased threats on monthly basis.
As well, and at the same time, 367 messages of vulgar victory are delivered to privileged Muslim men around the country.
The history of the colonization of Pakistani women may not be short and sweat but it is for sure un-complicated. In a feudal/tribal/religious society, the implementation of Muslim Sharia Laws, the Hudood Ordinances, provided what was lacking: the divine sanction to subjugate/abuse a whole population group to serve another. The Military, the MullaN and the US Empire have all benefited at the expense of Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats who are now reduced to errand boys/girls helping out to manage and exploit an already dis-empowered population.
Out of this, women, who are more than half the number of men, are rendered expendable. The ‘Declaration on Burying Women Alive/Killing of Women in the Name of “Honour” and other Customary Practices’, passed by women’s and human rights organizations in Islamabad after a national-level consultation in September, acknowledges and points to the situation like this:
‘that we will no longer allow women to be used as pawns – as convenient expendable targets – in feuds between men over murder, property, money, political and tribal rivalries, blood vendettas and misplaced perceptions of “honour” issues;’
The women being murdered, assaulted and mutilated in Pakistan are not you and me. I may be a ‘kari’ but i will not be the one caught/flogged/stoned/killed. It is inevitable that the woman who will suffer this punishment will be a woman of less social and economic status or a woman ‘belonging’ to men of less economic and social status; and, it will not matter if she is a ‘kari’ or not.
A woman Minister was shot dead by the eXtreme MullaNs last year but such instances are few and far between. So far, its 91 under-privileged women to about 1-2 privileged women a year.
Just as the war in Vietnam became an issue for American people and the Western world only when white soldiers began to die there in numbers, the gender-cide in Pakistan remains un-acknowledged by Pakistani people and the world because the women being killed/assaulted at the minimum rate of 367 per month do not belong to the privileged classes.
The ‘acknowledgment’ of gender-cide is not sought from the Military, MullaN or the Empire but from the progressive politicians, academicians, professionals, activists and bureaucrats who are engaged in a fight for peace, democracy and human rights.
We have to acknowledge a situation of urgency before we can respond to it; and, this is one such situation. Because you know why?
The ‘367 per month’ is an Inaccurate Number
Based on the information released by Aurat Foundation for the First Quarter of this year, the number of ‘honour’ killings rose from 1000 a year in 2001-2002 to 1192 a year in 2008. However, I truly believe that the actual number of killings is much higher.
Most cases involving lesser women/people do not get registered to be counted in researches and surveys. ‘Rapes and gang-rapes are a dime a dozen in feudal Pakistan; exploitation, of women, as also of other lesser mortals is managed in urban environments with sophistication. Neither, gets reported in routine.’ In Search of Decency by Zafar Samdani
There are graves being un-earthed in Pakistan of unregistered crimes against women. ‘… during the past two years, as many as 100 young girls and women had been murdered and their graves were unearthed recently.’ Motion Filed in Senate Against Killing of 100 Women
Delivering Justice to (under-privileged) Women
This is an article published in 2004 where the author recalls the memory of Nawabpur case that had happened in 1984. Beginning with the ‘Elder’ of the avenging family, the author has this to say in The tormenting memory of Nawabpur by Omar R. Quraishi :
‘One can only be astonished by the audacity of this man who probably saw it fit to deny or justify the parading of women naked at gunpoint, because one of their relatives allegedly had an affair or affairs with female relatives of the men who came to take revenge.
(Touch-wood 2008: Mir Israr Ullah Zehri)
‘A military court heard the case and after the incident an amendment (through the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance 1984 – Section 354 A) was inserted in the Pakistan Penal Code.
(Touch-Wood 2008: Laws will be amended, Sherry Rehman)
‘It increased the maximum sentence from two years in jail to capital punishment for anyone who forced a woman to strip naked in public. Despite that, the men tried in the Nawabpur case were not given capital punishment or even life sentence.
(Touch-Wood 2008: The more influential culprits in the Baloch women case have not even been charged yet)
‘In fact, two months later they were all released on bail. Akbar’s shattered and broken family left the village fearing that the released men might return and persecute them.’
(Persecution is on. Three older women were buried alive for objecting to the earlier alive burials of five women.)
The Most Unfortunate Fact is the People Who Are Killing Women
In the case of Five (now Eight) women who were buried alive in Balochistan, seven people were arrested, and this is who they are:
‘The arrested include the fathers of the three girls, a brother of two of the girls, a cousin of one of the girls and two others whose identities have not been disclosed’.
This is robbing the hearts and souls of women. One hell of a scary ‘family’! I wonder why a society continues to protect it.
And that is why if we cannot mount enough legal and social resistance in Pakistan and outside to protect women in their homes, we will be putting a vast majority of women’s population at an increased risk of violence and abuse from ‘displeased’ and now a bit ‘hunted’ men in their lives.
This is even more true where women are living in tribal, rural or extreme religious home/family environments.
Aithae vudh hyati nochdae/mere sajjan saak peyarae
An Unscietific Indicator of the Current level of Resistance on this Issue
I am proud to belong to some of the most vibrant Pakistani lists on the Net; foremost among them is the one used by five organizations of progressive workers, peasants, women, and rights activists with over 3000 members.
On September 26, ‘Zardari flirts with Palin’ and ‘Zardari calls Palin gorgeous’ were posted with ‘Three more women buried alive in Balochistan today’.
From September 26 to October 1, the first two drew 19 and 6 posts while the third got 2.
From those two, one was mine.
I think that it is almost a true indicator of the order of our priorities in Pakistan; and in that order, women receiving alive burials for wanting to exercise their basic human rights are remembered twice every 25 instances of imperial gossip.
‘Violence Against Women’? No! GENDER-CIDE in Pakistan!
Women Slam Govt Against ‘Honour’ Killings
1. Kikli 13 July Punjabi Roman
Shaheed Bibi Fauzia
2. Fauzia of Mir Wah English
2a. Mir Wah de Fauzia Punjabi
Shaheed Bibi Benaam 1
3. Mir Wah de benaam Chhori Number One Punjabi Roman
Shaheed Bibi Jannat
4. Swal Jannat da NahiN Roman
5. Vaen (mourning)
5a. Vaen Shahmukhi
Shaheed Bibi Fatmah
6. Hun MainuN Na Ro