Press Release: Condemnation of Stoning to Death of Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow

Shaheed Bibi Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow

29 October 2008

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! (SKSW) strongly condemns the stoning to death of Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow, a 23 year old Somali woman who was publically tortured and murdered Monday in the local square in Kismayu, Somalia.

Accused of adultery, Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow was buried up to her neck in front of hundreds of people while stones were hurled at her head. She was dragged out of the hole three times to see if she was dead.

Somali Islamist insurgents captured the southern port of Kismayu in August of this year. Witnesses to the stoning said the militants, known as al-Shabaab, accused the woman of adultery and extracted a confession. Although all standard interpretations of sharia, (or collections of Muslim laws,) dictate that adultery must be proven by four eye witnesses in a court of law, the Somali Concern Group reported that the killing was extra-judicial, and that the woman did not receive a trial. Stoning is not mentioned anywhere in the Quran and is considered by many Muslim scholars to be un-Islamic.

Members of al-Shabaab apparently publicized the execution, killing the woman in front of hundreds of people at the town square. When a relative and others pushed forward to rescue the victim, guards opened fire, killing a child. Islamist leaders have reportedly apologized for killing the child, but offered no such repentance for the stoning of Dhuhulow.

Stoning is a grave and serious violation of International Human Rights Law. Stoning breeches the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (1966). Somalia acceded to the convention in 1990.

Article 6 of the ICCPR states that “in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”, of which adultery is not.

Article 7 of the ICCPR states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. This last injunction is reinforced in the 1985 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) to which Somalia acceded in 1990.

Although the killing was carried out by non-state insurgents, Article 2 of the CAT states that “each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

We urge the state of Somalia to ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into this grave case. Members of al-Shabaab as well as every individual who took part in the stoning must be brought to justice, and the Somali state should take due diligence in taking every possible measure in order to prevent any such violation of women’s human rights from reoccurring.

Furthermore, the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! urges all militias, insurgents, independent armies and other non-state actors in Somalia to respect the human rights of civilians in their communities and unequivocally condemn the practice of stoning.

For more information, please go to
www.stop-stoning.org

Gendercide in Pakistan: Women are a colonized population!

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;’

Which Women?
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.

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‘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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