WAF outraged at jirga’s judgment of stoning to death

Staff Report

LAHORE: Women’s Action Forum (WAF) is outraged at reports of yet another “judgement of stoning to death due to illicit relations”, pronounced by a self-styled jirga convened in Kala Dhaka, wherein it was alleged that a man and a woman were seen walking together in a field in Madakhail.

WAF noted that Kala Dhaka was a Provincially Administered Tribal Area (PATA) until it was converted into a settled area and renamed ‘Torghar’ last week, after which it might be excused for demanding the writ of the state, the pronouncements of the judiciary, and the provincial law enforcement system to be de jure and de facto functional.

WAF states that there appears to be no law enforcement and no heed paid to the higher judiciary (including the Supreme Court’s) declaring jirgas and panchayats to be illegal parallel systems of “justice” and instructing the respective federal and provincial governments to eradicate them, and to punish those who participate in them.


No action taken to recover 18 year old

February 2, 2009

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: No action taken for the recovery of an 18 year old girl who was raped and kidnapped by the relatives of a minister

An 18-year-old girl, Ms R, of Pathan Mohalla, Mithiani, Tehsil and district Naushahro Feroz, Sindh province, trafficked to a family through marriage, has been raped by her father-in-law and other male members of his family for a period of almost one month. After she managed to escape, a Jirga (illegal court) was held and they ordered that the girl be returned to her parents. However, a second Jirga, conducted by Mr. Noorul Khan Bhurt, nephew of a Provincial Minister on Livestock, ordered that she be returned to her husband and his family on the basis that the girl’s parents had accepted money in exchange for the girl’s marriage. With the order of the second Jirga, the girl was kidnapped on October 21, 2008 and since that date her whereabouts remain unknown. Because of the involvement of the Provincial Minister the police are not taking action against the abduction and continuous rape of the girl. Please refer to our urgent appeal AHRC-UAC-008-2009 (A girl was raped and kidnapped by the relatives of a minister and her whereabouts are unknown).

After the passing of more than three months the Sindh provincial government has not taken any action to recover the girl from the clutches of the relatives of the Minister and his family. The safety and security of, not only Ms. R, but all the people under their jurisdiction is the prime duty of the provincial government. However, instead of living up to this responsibility government is instead protecting the minister and his henchmen. It is also reported that after the issuance of the urgent appeal from the AHRC, the Mithiani police station, whose station house officer was allegedly involved in providing safe passage to the abductors, has contacted the parents of the girl and threatened that if they continued to involve the minister and his nephew they would be arrested on murder charges. As per the details given in the aforementioned UA one of the attackers that raided the house of Ms. R’s family was shot dead.

The Asian Human rights Commission urges provincial government to recover the girl from the abductors and respect her rights provided by the International Covenant on Civil Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Pakistan is signatory. It is obligatory for the government to follow the covenant and protect the life of each and every citizen without discrimination. The government must take stern action against the perpetrators and their henchmen regardless of their positions in the government, their power or their wealth. Pakistan has also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women (CEDAW) but has avoided implementing the convention in its true spirit. Taking the path of least resistance it is keeping the existing political system running because of the powerful feudal lords and tribal leaders who hold Jirgas against women.


‘Conviction rate merely one to two per cent’

Tuesday, January 06, 2009
By our correspondent


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Shaheed Bibi Tasleem Solangi: Hyderabad police claim breakthrough

Shaheed Bibi Tasleem Solangi
Hyderabad police claim breakthrough in Tasleem Solangi case
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: DIG Hyderabad Sanaullah Abbasi has claimed a breakthrough in the Tasleem Solangi honour-killing case, saying he has found out documents signed by the local Nazim of the area giving details of how the poor girl, who was thrown in front of hungry dogs, was actually treated like a “slave”.

The powerful tribesmen having the backing of local politicians had documented the whole process, which finally ended in her physical elimination. This is the first time a written clue has been found in an honour-killing case which might help the police frame the participants of a Jirga that actually documented the whole process.

Meanwhile, the clothes that Tasleem was wearing at the time of her death, which might serve as an evidence of how she died, are mysteriously missing. Investigation officer Abbasi has also rejected the post-mortem report of Tasleem Solangi as unauthentic.

Meanwhile, two persons provided the DIG evidence of how Tasleem was thrown in front of hungry dogs before she was shot dead. Abbasi found out how a Jirga was actually held, whose decisions were properly documented by the participants. Even the local Nazim, Saleem, was present there and he too put his signature on these documents, which now police have taken into possession and might use them in the court of law.

“I am shocked to read the document which was signed at the time of deciding the fate of this unfortunate girl,” said Sanaullah Abbasi while talking to The News from Khairpur after recording the statements of about 30 people on the first day of his investigation into this crime against humanity.

President Asif Zardari had appointed Sanaullah Abbasi as investigation officer after rejecting the findings of MNA Nafeesa Shah. The president was dissatisfied with the report submitted by Nafeesa Shah, daughter of Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, in whose constituency the murder took place.

Abbasi visited the village of Tasleem Solangi on Tuesday and interviewed the concerned people. He met the father of Tasleem Solangi, who confirmed that his daughter was subjected to the worst kind of torture before being killed. He explained to the officer how she was first made to run before the hungry dogs and later gunned down in front of his eyes.

Likewise, Sindhi journalist Ajeeb Lakhoo also recorded his statement in which he confirmed that he had seen the dog-bitten body of Tasleem lying in a pool of blood inside a police van. Talking to The News, Sanullah Abbasi confirmed that he had found out documentary evidence that a Jirga was held to decide the fate of Tasleem and none other than the local Nazim had signed those papers, which clearly showed that the girl was taken away from her second husband.

Abbasi said the Jirga had followed the official procedures of “handing and taking over” the girl as she was some sort of “commodity” and not a human being. Abbasi said the girl was taken forcibly from her husband belonging to the Kunhar tribe by her first Solangi husband after the Jirga decided that the accused husband would pay Rs 400,000 for remarrying the wife of Solangi tribesman.

He said the Solangi tribe took Rs 400,000 from the second husband of Tasleem but killed her afterwards. He said the father of the girl and the Sindhi journalist Ajeeb Lakhoo had confirmed that Tasleem was thrown in front of dogs.


Young woman thrown to dogs was pregnant

Shaheed Bibi Tasleem Solangi

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: There is more to the bone-chilling account of the 17-year-old Taslim Solangi of Khairpur who was thrown to dogs — she was 8-month pregnant and was forced to give birth to her baby prematurely.

The baby was immediately thrown into the nearby Ubhal Wah canal after her killer father-in-law passed a judgement that the child was illegitimate and did not deserve to be allowed to live.

Meanwhile, a new report said hit men have also been dispatched to Karachi to kill the absconding mother of Taslim who had fled the village. Top level inside sources have now confirmed to The News on good authority that at the time of her murder Taslim was to give birth to her first child in two-week time.

But, once the decision to eliminate her was taken by her father-in-law Zamir Solangi, she was taken to a local midwife Mrs Badshaan alias Baashi for forced delivery of the child. Soon after the delivery, the baby was thrown into the nearby canal and later the mother was put to death.

In Islamabad, President Asif Ali Zardari reacted sharply to the report of killing of Taslim and has asked lady MNA Nafeesa Shah to investigate the shocking event and submit him a report. President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar told The News that the president was greatly disturbed over the incident and had immediately asked Nafeesa Shah to investigate the matter.

Mr Babar said the lady MNA, who was scheduled to leave for Turkey along with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, has cancelled her trip and decided to go to her village and probe the incident.

Meanwhile, source said, an influential assistant commissioner serving in the Sindh government, who heads the Solangi tribe, is said to have played a key role in facilitating the murder of the 17-year old girl. Mrs Zakran, the mother of the victim, is hiding in Karachi as Zamir Solangi has now dispatched hit men to kill her.

A source said: “You are talking about some one who was murdered in March, but no one is talking about the mother of the victim whose life is in serious danger after she decided to take on the killers of her daughter.î

The murderer is still at large, telling every body that he has sent hired assassins to eliminate the mother of his daughter-in-law. The police have instead arrested the husband of the girl, who volunteered to confess that he has killed his wife.

Gul Sher had married a woman of the adjoining Kanhar tribe from whom he had two sons and as many daughters. Taslim was the elder daughter, who was married to the son of her real uncle Zamir Solangi. One day, the mother of Taslim borrowed jewellery from her neighbours and fled the village along with her children. It is not known why she left her house, leaving her husband behind in the village.

She settled in Karachi with her children. After some time, she got her daughter Taslim married to a young man of Kanhar tribe of the same area. This marriage had taken place in Karachi. Having no idea that the young man belonged to the adjoining village of her own village, she married off her daughter to him. The Kanhar tribes have many houses adjacent to Hajana Shah, Pir jo Goth (the area of Pir of Pagara). One day, the young man took his wife Taslim to his village, as he did not know the history of her mother-in-law. By chance, some women from Hajna Shah came to visit the very house of the Kanhar tribe and learnt that Taslim had remarried to another man. They went back and informed their elders the whole story. This became a matter of enmity between the Solangi and Kanhar tribes. However, the chief of Solangi tribe and a serving assistant commissioner Sain Dad brokered a deal between the two tribes.

The assistant commissioner decided that the Kanhar tribe would pay a fine of Rs 400,000 to the Sloangi family for remarrying the girl. Likewise, Sain Dad also made the Kanhar tribe to hand over Taslim to an old man Khajan of Hajana Shah village as ëAmaanatí till a final decision. The girl was handed over to one Mulla Ajao who later handed her over to Mr Khajan who kept her in his home.

But one morning Zamir Solangi came to Khajan with holy Quran in his hands to assure him that if he handed over his daughter-in-law, he would not harm her. He vowed on Quran that he would not kill her and would keep her at his house. Zamir also gave a word on Quran to her frightened niece and daughter-in-law Taslim that he would not kill her. Khajan agreed and handed over the girl to Zamir Solangi.

After taking the girl to his home, the first thing he did was to take the pregnant Taslim to a midwife Baashi to arrange the delivery of the child whose actual date of delivery was still fifteen days away. The moment the child was born, he was thrown in the Ujhal Wah canal.

Zamir Solangi forced his son Ibrahim Solangi to declare that his wife was a ëKaalií. He asked his son it was better that he confessed to police that he had killed his wife for being ëKaalií, as it would be easy at the later stage to get him out of jail after some compromise, as happens in the cases of honour killing. Ibrahim went to the police station and confessed to have killed his wife in the name of honour. Thus the real killer managed to escape arrest.

Meanwhile, Ahmedpur police station officials did not show any interest in further investigating the whole issue after the husband of girl surrendered before the police. Talking to The News, DSP Khairpur Liaqat Abbasi said it was a simple case of honour killing, as the husband had confessed to the crime and was in jail. He claimed that there was some dispute over the payment of money, which had actually led to big hue and cry.

Meanwhile, MNA Nafisa Shah, who belongs to Khairpur, has condemned the incident of Taslim Solangi’s murder, which she termed as cruel, inhuman and barbaric. She also condemned the role of the Jirga.

There have been numerous cases where the MNA, a former Nazim, has taken personal risks and saved lives of many women. There have been other cases when she learnt of deaths months after the incidents and ordered enquiries and the culprits were brought to justice. This has been duly acknowledged nationally and internationally, as she received a number of citations on peace and human rights.


PAKISTAN: A young woman is mauled by dogs and later killed

Shaheed Bibi Tasleem Solangi

October 26, 2008
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: A girl is mauled by dogs and later killed on the pretext of an honour killing

In May of this year a Jirga, an illegal tribal court, was held against a girl of 17 years in which she was declared as Kari (having had an illicit relationship with someone). This was done, according to the tribal traditions, to justify her earlier murder by members of her own family. The Jirga was held at Hajna Shah Goth, Ahmedpur, Pir jo Goth, Khairpur Mirs District under the chairmanship of Mr. Sain Allad Dad Solangi, the head of the Solangi tribe of Sindh province.

According to the information, received only recently, after a land dispute, Ms. Taslim Solangi, age 17, was pressured to ask her parents to hand over all their property, including six acres of cultivated land and cattle farms to her uncle. On her refusal the perpetrators abducted her father, Gul Sher and detained him at his younger brother’s house.

At the same location on March 7, 2008, Taslim was subjected to the cruellest possible ordeal. She was made to run before a pack of dogs that bit at her legs until, exhausted, she fell to the ground where they continued to maul her. She was subsequently shot by Zameer Solangi in the presence of her father in order to intimidate him. Also present were Mr. Karim Bux, who is also an uncle of the girl and a councillor in local bodies. It was due to the influence of these persons that the police took no action in the killing and land dispute. Later, in May Mr. Karim arranged a jirga in order to justify the killing and obtain impunity for all his brothers. The Jirga was conducted by Mr. Sain Allah Dad, a powerful land lord of the Pir Jo Goth. Furthermore, Mr. Abdul Qayum, a wealthy person of the area, was fined Rs. 400,000/= and threatened by the killers and the elders of the tribe to confess to the crime of having had an illicit relationship with Tasleem. He was threatened with death if he refused to do so.

In the absence of rule of law and a proper prosecution system the powerful people, who are at the same time representatives of people at different levels, are enjoying impunity and using their power against a very marginal section of the society. The family of Gul Sher has left their house and village and all his property is under the control of killers. However, as stated earlier, the police and people’s representatives have taken no action in their support. The powerful people know that police and law can be purchased at any price so they enjoy the weaknesses of authorities.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the government to have a proper investigation into the horrific murder of Ms. Tasleem Solangi on the pretext of honor killing. The dreadful death of this innocent girl was purely for the purpose of grabbing her father’s land. This is yet another example of the use of honour killings in order to settle personal disputes.

The writ of the provincial governments is looking very weak before the powerful and political personalities. The political expediency to get more support from usurpers has weakened the legal systems of the country. The government of Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Gillani should take immediate action in this case.

About AHRC:
The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.


Police recovers ‘Kari’ after late-night assaults

Khadijah Shah

KHAIRPUR, PAKISTAN Oct 5: Police recovered Ms Naheed Lashari, who had been declared as Kari by a Jirga and had been missing since the Jirga verdict, after raids on different villages late on Saturday night.

Sources in Sobhodero police revealed that Ms Naheed would be produced in court on Monday to record her statement before the judge.

Police had also arrested three Lashari men on charges of being involved in holding the Jirga, which declared Naheed as Kari and one Aziz Lashari as Karo, reported ROD.

Meanwhile, Abbas Lashari, Naheed’s husband, continued protest in Razidero on the second consecutive day on Sunday in protest against the Jirga verdict. Abbas’ children and other family members joined him
in the protest.

He told ROD that his wife was not a Kari and the Jirga had leveled a false allegation against her. He demanded that the chief minister take notice of the incident to provide justice, and order to order the police to bring the Jirga-holders to justice.

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

Jirga declares woman Kari, smacks fine on man involving girl-child

Illegal Jirga implements ‘Swara’, and involves a 3-Year old child in the deal.

Khadijah Shah

KHAIRPUR, PAKISTAN, Oct 4: A married woman was allegedly declared kari in a Jirga and it was decided that she should be killed while the man alleged to be Karo was asked to pay Rs 100,000 ($US 1316) and a girl’s hand as fine.

According to sources, a Jirga was held between two groups of Lashari community under the supervision of area notable Ashiq Abbasi near Razidero, Gambat taluka, about a week ago.

The woman Naheed Lashari was allegedly declared kari whereas the man alleged to be Karo, Aziz Lashari, was asked to pay Rs 100,000 ($US 1316) and marry his three-year-old niece Farzana with one Naseer 5, as fine.

Ghulam Abbas, husband of accused woman along with his family members, relatives and father-in-law, reached Razidero press club on Friday evening and staged a protest.

He told ROD that his wife was not a Kari and added that his wife was missing after the Jirga decision and he suspected that she has been kidnapped. He added that he had declared on oath in the Jirga that his wife was not kari. He demanded of the concerned authorities to recover his wife
and provide her security.

When contacted on cell phone, Mian Ashiq Abbasi told newsmen of Gambat that he has neither supervised any jirga nor he has given any such decision.

Sources stated that area police raided various villages on Saturday to arrest Lashari community persons who are accused of holding Jirga but no arrest was made and no case was registered till the filing of this report on Saturday.

DPO Khairpur has directed SPO Sobhodero to hold an inquiry into the matter and find Ms Naheed Lashari as well as to provide her security.

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

Two accused of Wani exonerated

By Khadijah Shah

Karachi, Pakistan: The Judicial Magistrate, West, Syed Nadeem Shahzad Haider, issued the acquittal order on Tuesday of two of the accused involved in the kidnapping of their nieces because the case was not maintainable.

The Investigation Officer (IO) for the case submitted a report under Section 179 arguing that the case against the accused was not maintainable so they will be released. The court, accepting the
application, ordered their acquittal.

Two minor girls, eight-year-old Zainab and 10-year-old Sara, were allegedly kidnapped by their uncle, Shah Tareen, with the help of Ishaq and Sanober from Karachi and were sent to Kala Dhaka and handed
over to other people after a Jirga’s decision.

Shah Tareen married against the will of the Jirga. He was asked to hand over the two minor girls in return. He kidnapped two of his nieces and handed them over to aggrieved party under the settlement.

The two girls had submitted three applications before the court of Judicial Magistrate, West, Syed Nadeem Shahzad Haider, calling to provide protection to the family who still were receiving threats. Secondly,
they said, action should be taken against Jirga who they said had given illegal decision. Thirdly the police party who was sent to Mansehra to recover the missing girls had disappeared and the parents
of the girls themselves investigated into the affair.

The Judge later ordered that the two sisters be handed over to their mother. Zainab and Sara stated that they were kidnapped by their uncle Shah Tareen with the help of Ishaq and Sanober from Karachi.

Later, Ishaq took them to Kala Dhaka and detained them at his home, they said, adding they were forced to serve as maids.

The girls recorded their statements before the court. A letter of the DCO and political agent of the tribal area regarding recovery of the girls was also produced before the court.

The applicant and mother of the girls told the court that the police party sent by the Sindh home department on a court order to Mansehra for the recovery of her daughters had just delivered court orders to the DCO and immediately came back to Karachi, adding she had personally approached the DCO who deputed a Tehsildar to negotiate with the tribal people for the recovery of the girls.

She requested the court to take action against the police team for not complying with the court orders.

The judge directed the police party constituted for the recovery of the girls, to appear before the court on Aug 29 and asked the SHO of Gulbahar to provide security to the applicant.

On a pervious hearing, the police party stated in its report that the staff of Oghi police station had refused to cooperate with them by maintaining that the area of Kala Dhaka, where girls were detained,
was in the jurisdiction of Provincially Administered Tribal Areas and said a political Tehsildar of Kala Dhaka Jamshad Khan was negotiating with the local Jirga and the girls are likely to be recovered soon.

The applicant stated that Shah Tareen had married Jannat against her parents’ will in their native town in district Mansehra. To settle the dispute between the two families, a Jirga asked Tareen to hand over
his nieces to the aggrieved party as compensation.

Subsequently, he allegedly kidnapped the two girls and handed them over to a Jirga member, Sanober, in Karachi and later to a member of the aggrieved party, Ishaq, in Mansehra. The police had arrested Shah Tareen and Sanober following registration a case against them at SITE police station. Ishaq was also named in the FIR.

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

‘Violence Against Women’? No! GENDER-CIDE in Pakistan!

By Fauzia Rafiq

I write this as tears unstoppable, fall from my eyes. The mourning for the five women buried alive in Balochistan was hardly over when the news came late last night that three more women were buried alive for speaking against the atrocities done earlier to Bibi Jannat, Bibi Fatmah, Bibi Fauzia, Bibi Benaam1 and Bibi Benaam2 in July of this year. Though we say Five, the sources suspect the women buried alive in July 2008 were Seven; this makes it Eight or Ten.

Though i do, but right now i am not crying for Three Five Eight or Ten women. I am crying for uncountable number of women killed for honour and revenge in Pakistan since the Eighties. But just to keep my feet on the ground, here is the approximate exact number for the last Six months: 225 for ‘honour’ and 722 for ‘no-honour’ = 947 or Nine Hundred and Forty Seven Only.

But wait, these are stats collected by Aurat Foundation, a non-profit organization that can not reach each neighborhood and each village of the country. The researchers would have had to rely on police records and government statistics, and in both these areas the numbers are known to NOT reflect the reality of the reference. Pakistan Human Rights Commission (PHRC), Asian Human rights Commission (AHRC), and women’s direct service and advocacy organizations show many complaints in their service registers about the police not registering the cases in these matters.

In Pakistan, some say, read it three times the number. Shall we read it 2841 instead of 947 then? That’s too much. Lets just double the number instead of tripling it: 1894 in 6 months. From January to June 2008. However, counting and numbers fast become irrelevant at times when what is happening to women in a country can no more be defined as ‘honour killings’, ‘domestic violence’, ‘wife assault’ or ‘violence against women’. It’s gender-cide.

This gender-cide began in Pakistan in the Eighties with the implementation of Muslim Sharia Laws, and has continued through the Nineties as Muslim extremists have flourished to gain commanding political ground in Punjab, Balochistan and the NWFP. Now reaching a level of urgency in 2008, it puts the largest majority of Pakistani women at the direct risk of sexual violence, torture and death. The ones most vulnerable are in rural and tribal areas where the terrifying control exercised by local influential men is protected by religion, law and the gun with zero tolerance for dissent.

The majority of women living in rural and tribal areas are at risk more than ever because though women were being killed and exploited for revenge, family honor, watta-satta, karo-kari and other similar social and cultural constructs, it was never as often, as brutal and as much as it is now with the blanket protection provided by Islamic laws, edicts and notions. For the reader who does not see the connection: a society that by law requires women survivors of rape, for example, to produce four Muslim male eyewitnesses of upright character to prove or even to register the case against the rapists, is setting women up for increased instances of rape, sexual violence, honour killings and murders.

So, at any pressure point in the life of a woman or in the life of her family or community, she will be the first casuality of justice, likely with no possibility of help from outside the room, home or village.

The case of Five Baloch Women Buried Alive this July, signifies the cruelty, cold-bloodedness and the absolute control enjoyed by the perpetrators in a situation of ‘family’ interaction. Not only that, it reveals the nature of deadly silences and conspiracies that involve such acts of inhuman violence carried out against unarmed women; and, we are not even certain of the number or the names of the individuals who died there.

In a village called Mirwah in Balochistan, two young sister and a friend studied in the nearby high school. As are the customs, they were likely ‘given’ or ‘taken’ by another relative/s for their sons from childhood. The three young women Benaam 1 (16-18), Benaam 2 (16-18) and Fauzia (18) did not want to marry where their ‘families’ wanted them to. They discussed this matter with two older relatives Fatmah (45) and Jannat (38); the matter was taken to the family elders or Jirga that went on to rule against the wishes of the three young women.

The three young women, however, were strong in their resolve to stand up to the unjust authoritarianism dished out to women by elders/jirgas. With support of Jannat and Fatmah, they went to the nearby city to contract civil marriages.

At this point, they were abducted by a group of armed men in a government vehicle and brought to another small village in the desert. The abductors included the fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins of five women, and some local political goons. Reports say that the men hit and shot the three young women, and then began to bury them while they were still alive.

Fatmah and Jannat tried to stop them, and were also shot and hurled into the ground alive.

This happened in the second week of July but we came to know of it at the end of August when Baloch Senator Yasmeen Shah with help from some courageous journalists, brought it out in the open. The alive burials of women were defended in the Senate; and, the extensive cover up and silencing that was underway was shamefacedly perfected by the provincial and federal power brokers.

Pressure from rights activists and women’s groups pushed Pakistan People Party (PPP) to take a stand amidst a power-balancing act as it took over the government. Leaders of women’s groups in Pakistan held a nation-wide consultation and released a statement of action titled Declaration on Burying Women Alive/Killing of Women in the Name of “Honour” and other Customary Practices issued by Joint Action Committees (JACs), Women’s Action Forums (WAF chapters), Insani Haqooq Itehad (IHI) and Violence Against Women Watch Groups. The Supreme Court of Pakistan took sou motu notice. The newly instituted government of the PPP responded as if it was going to do something about it but nothing has really been done. A post by the Karachi Committee of Communist Workers & Peasants Party (CMKP), an association of five workers peasants and women’s organizations, says:
‘We feel that the issue regarding the atrocities meted out to five Baloch women who were buried alive on the orders of a tribal jirga not too long ago is being side-tracked, just like other similar issues before this one.’
Protest against atrocities meted out to five women buried alive

And then the news last night!
Three older women were also buried alive in July for demanding basic human rights for women in Pakistan. They were from the same village: Mirwah.
They were buried alive at the same place: Babakot.

Death anywhere
but when i die
bury me in Babakot
so that i can become a part
of the sand
that layered the bleeding flesh
of my sisters

Send An Appeal Letter

First published at Uddari Weblog

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