Pakistan: Post Women's Protection Bill, 38 women murdered in Sindh, 17 slain in the name of honour Print E-mail

Pakistan -- February 04, 2007 Sunday Muharram 15, 1428

Horrific honour crimes

Scroll down for further reports of violent assaults, including gang-rape, on girls in the first weeks of 2007

ACCORDING to the Aurat Foundation, 38 women were murdered in Sindh last month, out of which 17 were killed in ‘honour’ crimes. This is an appalling disclosure which demands the government’s urgent attention, especially since it has passed legislation that should have curbed the practice of honour-related crimes. It seems that the law has had no impact ­ partly for lack of its enforcement, or how else does one explain such horrifying crimes taking place with such regularity? If women are not killed for dishonouring their families, they are often raped or gang-raped or they commit suicide because they are being forced into marrying against their will, or they are victims of domestic violence, unemployment or family disputes. The report further states that 12 women were living in shelters out of fear for their lives from their families. Around 26 women had been arrested on various allegations or, worse, in place of their male relatives whom the police could not arrest. Despite a law banning jirgas in the province, there were 15 such tribal meetings held on women-related issues and the verdicts passed were not favourable to women ­ four women, including young girls, were handed over as compensation to settle conflicts.

These are all abhorrent crimes that society cannot ignore any longer. Community activism must be encouraged, as it is in India, where grassroots leaders are actively involved in galvanising public opinion against social evils. Laws alone cannot bring about the desired change though their strict implementation is crucial. For too long have men got away with committing heinous crimes against women because they know there is nothing to prevent them. Non-governmental organisations have played a vital role in raising awareness but that has not yet had the desired impact as these disturbing figures prove. Society must undergo a change in its attitude towards women if it wants to bring to an end these horrific crimes.


 e-Paper, February 03 2007 , Page 16


Pakistan -- February 04, 2007 Sunday Muharram 15, 1428

Victim seeks hanging of rapists

SUKKUR, Feb 3: A 16-year old girl who was allegedly raped and forced to walk naked through a village near Ubaro, wants her attackers to be hanged.

“I have little hope of getting justice. But I want to see those who defiled me hanged,” the girl said on Saturday as she lay on her bed at her one-room home in Habib Labano village, 550kms northeast of Karachi.

“I haven’t been able to move from my bed out of shame and pain since. I want to see these people pay,” she said, tugging a frayed brown headscarf to half cover her face.

The men accused of raping the girl were allegedly exacting retribution because one of her relatives had eloped with a woman from their family.

Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad ordered an inquiry into the alleged rape on Jan 27, and police have arrested six of the 11 people accused. The National Assembly's committee on human rights and law has also ordered an inquiry.

Aftab Farooqi, the investigating officer of the case, said the six, including one of the main accused, had been remanded, and the police had been given 14 days to submit a report to the government and conclude investigations.

“We will see justice is done,” he said.

The father of the victim said he was being harassed by influential people to drop the case and reach a settlement through the village council (jirga).

“I want justice for my poor daughter. If I don't get that I will go to the Supreme Court and set myself on fire,” the man, a labourer, said weeping in the courtyard of his mud-walled one-room home.

On Friday, a 13-year-old schoolgirl living in Dadu district accused four men of first abducting and then raping her on Jan 10.

Kainat Soomro and her parents told reporters at the Larkana Press Club that police were reluctant to arrest the accused because they were being `protected by some members of the ruling party’.

Kainat, a student of class VIII, said the four men had threatened to murder her if anything came out against them.

Her father, Ghulam Nabi Soomro, said he and his family had fled their home in Mehar after getting `death threats from unknown people’.

The cases bear similarities to that of Mukhtaran Mai, an illiterate peasant woman who was gang-raped in a village of Punjab in 2002 on the orders of a village council. Mukhtaran Mai went on to become an icon for women’s rights movements worldwide because of her inspirational fight for justice.

Her case helped galvanise public opinion behind a government-backed change to rape laws, which had made it extremely difficult to make charges stick, and rendered a victim liable to charges of adultery, an offence that carries a prison sentence.

On Jan 28, a man and a woman were stoned to death in a Punjab village by the woman’s relatives who suspected them of adultery.­Reuters