Honour killings rampant in Pakistan
Monday May 29 2006
Honour victim Ayesha Baloch (R) sits inside a hospital with her mother in Multan on May 25. Reuters [Scroll down for update]
Ayesha Baloch was dragged to a field, her brother-in-law held the 18-year-old down, her husband sat astride her legs and slit her upper lip and nostril with a knife.
They call such assaults on women a matter of “honour” in some Pakistani communities, but for the majority it is a source of national shame.
Married less than two months ago in Pakistan’s central district of Dera Ghazi Khan, Baloch was accused of having sexual relations with another man before marriage.
“First they tortured me and beat me. I started screaming. Akbar then caught my hands and pulled me to the ground. Essa sat on my legs and cut my nose and lips,” Baloch mumbled through her bandages at hospital in the city of Multan. At least she wasn’t killed.
More than 1,000 women are slain by their husbands or relatives, and that is just the reported, not actual, number of “honour killings” in Pakistan each year.
Many killings are planned rather than done in rage, and the motive often has more to do with money or settling scores.
The same week, a world away from Baloch’s village, social activists, parliamentarians and community leaders gathered in the suburban, leafy capital of Islamabad to launch a campaign “We Can End honour Killing”.
Farhana Faruqi Stocker, country director of international aid agency Oxfam, said some 10,000 people called “change-makers” had signed up so far.
But Stocker knows two constituencies will be vital to the campaign’s success. “The mindset of legislators has to be changed in order for good legislation to come out,” Stocker told Reuters.
But she is well aware that there are many remote rural areas of Pakistan where maulvis, or clerics, exert more influence than local government and federal law. “In order to bring change, we have to engage with clerics.” Pakistan is a country living in many centuries at once. Its small, Westernised elite embrace the 21st, conservative clerics preach strict interpretations of Islam from the Middle Ages, while many of its poor rural communities are governed by tribal customs going back long before Islam arrived.
Honour killings are known as “karo-kari” killings.
A woman is deemed a “black woman”, a “kari”, once she is accused of having sex outside of marriage and is liable to be killed. “Karo” is the male version.
The custom is rooted in tribalism, although a strict interpretation of Islam’s hudood penal code also rules that adulterers should be stoned to death.
Mukhtaran Mai, an icon for oppressed women and herself the victim of a gang rape in 2002, said police should enforce the law without bias, but getting more girls into school was crucial, too.
“Until women are allowed to get educated ... these crimes will continue,” said Mai, whose rape was ordered by village elders after her 12-year-old brother was accused of having sexual relations with a woman of another tribe.
Some 70 per cent of Pakistanis live in rural areas where feudalism and tribalism still thrive and traditional codes apply.
Monday, May 29, 2006, Jamadi-ul-Awal 1, 1427 A.H.
‘Honour’ victim shifted to Nishtar Hospital
By our correspondent
MULTAN: Ayesha Baloch, whose husband, Esa Khan, chopped off her nose and lips in the name of honour, has been shifted to Nishtar Hospital on the intervention of high authorities.
Ayesha was married to Esa Khan, her first cousin, while all the relatives knew her relations with her aunt’s son Akbar. Esa accepted the marriage, but his father Mir Khan forced him to take a big amount as fine from her wife, according to tribal traditions as he had accepted her despite her illegal relations.
At this, the couple was shifted to another place, but Esa’s father insisted on demanding the money and threatened to kill the couple if his demand was not met. Then Ayesha began to live with her sister separately. On May 20, Esa and his brother Akbar reached at the house and requested her brother that he wanted to live with his wife. When they were returning back along with Ayesha, on their way Akbar seized Ayesha’s arms while Esa chopped her nose and lips and fled.
Meanwhile, the Dera Ghazi Khan Sadar police have registered a case against Mir Khan his sons Esa and Akbar and arrested them. The victim’s family has appealed to President General Pervez Musharraf to look into the matter.