"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Men and women of full age without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry or to have a family. They entitled to equal rights as to marriage and its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the attending spouses. The family is the natural and fundamental group, unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and state."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 3&16
"The right to life of women in Pakistan is conditional on their obeying social norms and traditions"
Hina Jilani, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist
"Women in Pakistan are killed like hens; they have no way to escape and no say in what happens to them"
A Journalist in Larkana, Feb. 1999
Women in Pakistan face all kinds of gross violence and abuse at the hands of the male perpetuators family members and state agents. Multiple form of violence includes rape; domestic abuse as spousal murder, mutilation, burning and disfiguring faces by acid, beatings; ritual honour killings and custodial abuse and torture.
Every year in Pakistan hundreds of women, of all ages and in all parts of the country, are reported killed in the name of honour. Many more cases go unreported. Almost all go unpunished. The lives of millions of women in Pakistan are circumscribed by traditions, which enforce extreme seclusion and submission to men many of whom impose their virtually proprietorial control over women with violence. For the most part, women bear the traditional male control over every aspect of their bodies, speech and behaviour with stoicism, as part of their kismat (fate), but exposure to media, the work of women's rights groups and the greater degree of mobility have seen the beginnings of women's rights awareness seep into the secluded world of women. But if women begin to exert these rights, however tentatively, they often face more repression and punishment: the curve of honour killings has increased parallel to the rise in the awareness in rights. State indifference, discriminatory laws and the gender bias of much of the country's police force and judiciary have ensured virtual impunity for perpetuators of honour killings.
In the international human rights arena, honour crimes against women are understood as a form of domestic violence, i.e. violence against women in the family or community. Based on the dichotomy of private and public spheres and perception that the former was somehow less significant, domestic violence was earlier perceived as private acts within the family and not as an issue of civil and political rights. The United Nations has explicitly recognized violence against women as human rights issue involving state responsibility. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has defined domestic violence as " violence perpetrated in the domestic sphere which targets women because of their role within that sphere or as violence which is intended to impact, directly and negatively, on women within the domestic sphere. Such a violence may be carried out by both private and public actors and agents. This conceptual framework intentionally departs from traditional definitions of domestic violence, which address violence perpetrated by inmates against inmates…"( UN Doc. E/CN.4/1996/53,para 28).
Concept of Honour:
The time has come to put an end to such violence against women. It is paradoxical that women who enjoy such a poor status in society and have no standing in family should become a focal point of a false and primitive concept of family honour, which they are accepted to uphold at the expense of their inclinations and preference in the matters of marriage.
According to Advocate Asma Jehangir:
"Honour is only a pretax to murder women for property and in many cases, for getting lighter punishment for heinous crimes"
In Another statement she said,
"I asked them so many times when people talk about honour and our religion talks about honour: When do they ever raise their voices when women are openly sold in the market? Is this an honourable thing to do?
HRCP Newsletter July' 99
The logic of tribal tradition turns conceptions of victim and perpetrator, right or wrong on their own head: women who are killed or flee a killing are not victims but are considered guilty in the tribal setting. The man to whom a woman belongs, whether a wife, sister or daughter, has to kill her to restore his honour. He is the victim as he has suffered loss first to his honour and then of the woman he has to kill. Consequently he is the aggrieved person with whom the sympathies with the tribal setting lie, not the possibly innocent woman he killed. A man whose honour has been damaged must publicly demonstrate his power to safeguard it by killing those that damaged it and therefore restore it. In the tribal setting an honour killing is not a crime but a legitimate action, seen as the appropriate punishment for those who contravene the honour code. The man who kills for reasons of honour becomes ghairatman (possessing honour) and is morally and legally supported by his kinsmen. A man's ability to protect his honour is judged by his family and his neighbours and is taunted by tano ( institution bordering insult ) that he is " socially impotent" and beghairat (without honour) if he fails to kill a woman of his household who has damaged his honour. Honour Killings are consequently not hidden away but openly performed, often ritually and with the maximum spilling blood. Further, the family of alleged karo never kill as they do not lose honour-on contrary by capturing other man's wife or daughter, they have increased their honour.
The use of word honour for such a dishonourable act is a tragedy. The people who take honour pride in those killings should be ashamed and not proud. All over the world women are provided the right of freedom if independence to make decisions regarding their own life.
Honour Of Man:
The possession and control of desirabe commodities, especially zan, zar, zameen( women, gold and land) is closely linked with perception of man's honour. These objects are worthy of possession and need to be control on account of their inherent value. Ghairat (honour) is closely linked with izzat, respect or standing in society. Izzat bases itself on possession , wealth, and property. " A man's property , wealth and all that is linked with these are the sum of total value and therefore it is an integral part of honour of man, tribe etc. Therefore when the rights of the women are transferred from her father to the man she is marrying, the guardianship of honour shifts as well".
A key observation is that "although honour is located in material wealth, the language and expression of honour resides in the body. Women's bodies are considered to be the repository of family honour". Honour in the traditional settings is a male prerogative it is men who possess zan, zar and zamin that allows them to hold their heads up; women have no honour of their own.
Origin Of Honour-Killings:
Originally a Baluch and Pashtun tribal custom, honour killings are founded in the twin concepts of honour and commodification of women. Women are married off for a bride price paid to the father. This was basically a baloch and pashtun tribal custom, honour killings are not only reported in Baluchistan, NWFP and Upper Sindh which has a Baloch influx, but in Punjab province as well. If this commodity is 'damaged' the proprietor, the father or husband, has a right to compensation. If a husband kills his wife for alleged sexual misbehaviour and alleged 'lover' gets away, the latter has to pay the husband compensation, for the wife that was lost and for his own life, which was spared. Often the dead woman's alleged 'lover' hands over a sister to the husband, in addition to a larger amount of money.
Satta-watta marriages, which involve exchange of siblings across generations, put an additional burden on women to abide by their father's marriage arrangements. Often women choosing another spouse are abducted by their own relatives and not heard from again. Standards of honour and chastity are not equally applied to men and women in Pakistan, though the honour code applies to both equally.
The Rationale of Honour Killings:
Two main factors contribute against women in the name of honour: women's commodification and conceptions of honour. The concept of women as an object or commodity, not a human being endowed with dignity and rights equal to those of men, is deeply rooted in tribal culture. Dr. Tahira Shahid Khan of Shirkatgah, a woman's resource center, points out: "Women's are considered the property of the males in their family irrespective of their class, ethnic or religious groups. The owner of the property has the right to decide its fate. The concept of ownership has turned women into a commodity which can be exchanged, bought and sold." Similarly, a close observer of women's issues in Sindh, journalist Nafisa Shah says: " In the tribal society of Sindh and Baluchistan, a woman is equated with money…..But although she has monetary value, her worth is essentially that of a commodity and this view goes far towards creating a situation when she may be butchered if she transgresses the conditions under which she is bound to a man for life. She may also be freely traded or given away as part of a karo-kari settlement."
Ownership rights are at stake when women are to be married, almost always in Pakistan by arrangement of their parents. A major consideration is the young woman's future inheritance rights over family property or assets. In Pakistan, feudal and tribal customs dictate that property be kept in the family. It is not uncommon for girls to be married to a paternal uncle or aunt's sons….. so that control over the estate (jagir) is not weakened which would happen if a daughter married an outsider. Feudals do not want their jagirs dismembered on any account. To keep daughters in the paternal family, they are sometimes married to paternal cousins 10-20 years younger than them (in some syed [descendent of the prophet] in families of Punjab and Sindh, parents wait until a son is born to a paternal). A girl 15-20 years old then raises her would-be husband. She has no choice. What if there is no paternal uncle available? Maternal cousins become acceptable in that situation. What if there is no maternal cousin? Then the woman has to undergo the ceremony of haq-baksh-wai (marriage with the Quran) [The practice of marrying a woman to the Quran, supposedly with her consent, is reportedly on the decline, but women activists believe that it is still found among syeds, descendant of the prophet, in upper Sindh. Syeds only marry within their community; on account of their high status, syed women observe strict seclusion to the extent that some may never leave the home in which they are born.]. This is more common in Sindh.
In Punjab daughters are kept unmarried till the age of menopause when they take up the Quran and Tasbih [prayer beads] voluntarily. While women are usually forced to accept such martial decisions made by their fathers, men have the possibility to marry a second wife according to their liking and lead a life in the public sphere where they can find fulfillment. Women by contrast are in the vast majority of cases confined almost entirely to the char divari, the four walls of the home. The commodification of women is also evident in that every marriage in tribal society involves payment of the bride price (vulver in NWFP and Balochistan and verkro in Sindh). The girl or woman is exchanged for a price in the market. The price is paid by the groom to the father's to the groom's/husband's possession and custody. The bride price varies according to status, health, beauty and age of the woman and, like other possessions, the bride subsequently adds to the honour of the groom. To receive a bride in exchange for a daughter is honourable not only to the family but also to the woman concerned whose worth is therby acknowledged.
Sometimes a bride price is taken in the form of another woman. Men exchange their daughters, even granddaughters, for new wives for themselves. While demanding a low bride price for their daughters, some men ask in addition that the as yet unborn grand-daughters be handed to them to be married off for another bride price.
The commodification of women is also the basis of the practise of khoon baha [literally: blood money], i.e. the compensation negotiated to end a dispute which besides money may involve a woman to be given to a adversary. For instance, a woman may be handed over to compensate a man whose honour has been damaged or to settle a conflict between two tribes or families. The standard price to settle a conflict is one girl above seven years of age or two girls under seven and it is also seen that the girls' milk teeth have been broken to create the sense that they were above seven years of age so, that a family would only have to give one girl.
The Pashtoon have codified the honour system in the Pashtoonwali, it revolves around four concepts: 'malmastya', the obligation to show hospitality; 'badal', revenge; 'nanawaty', asylum; and 'nang', honour. A man's property, wealth and all that is linked with these is a sum total of his honour value. A woman is also an object of value and therefore is an integral part of the honour of a man, tribe etc. Therefore when the rights of a woman are transferred from a father to the man she is marrying, the guardianship of honour shifts as well. Perceived as the embodiment of the honour of their family, women must guard their virginity and chastity. By entering an adulterous relationship a woman subverts the order of things, undermines the ownership rights of others to her body and indirectly challenges the social order as a whole. She becomes black, kari (Sindhi) or siahkari (Baluch). Womens' bodies must not be given or taken away except in a regulated exchange, effected by men. Women's physical chastity is of upper most importance and by the merest hint of 'illicit' sexual interest a woman loses her inherent value as an object worthy of possession and therefore her right to life. In most tribes, there is no other punishment for a woman accused of 'illicit' sex but death.
Kari's remain dishonoured even after death. Their dead bodies are thrown in rivers or buried in special hidden kari graveyards. Nobody mourns for them or honours their memory by performing their relevant rights. Karo's by contrast are reportedly buried in the communal graveyard. There are different modes of honour killings. In Kand Kot and its suburbs, the kari woman is dressed in red. Henna is applied to her hands, then she is taken to the bank of the river where she is shot or slaughtered with an axe. Sometimes the girl is taken to a mountain and her neck is broken. It has been witnessed that the kari woman is most severely tortured before being killed." The professor has studied and analysed numerous Karo kari cases. An old man was a witness to such an incident. He saw that a blood thirsty man with the razor, arrogantly walked onto the right side of his victim, held her right ear tightly and sliced it off as her chocking voice repeated " I am innocent." Wiping the blood from the razor on the dirty palm of his left hand, the man turned to the left ear and slashed it off amid screams beseeching him to pardon her. The nose and ears were then placed atop her the victim's head and the man holding her hair slowly loosened his grip, walked away from the scene while the other two stretched her arms as if they would detach the limbs from her body. Amid her shrieks, the gunman took out his gun and pulled the trigger while others repeated their earlier words, "This is the fate of the kari." The bullet killed the girl instantly. She collapsed and the two men simultaneously raised their legs, violently kicked the body away into the canal. In some areas, such women are sold. A rotten finger, should be amputated, says a proverb in Lal Garh of Dera Ghazi Khan. It is a common practice that a sold woman is abandoned by her family. A few tribes in upper Sindh like the Mehars do not physically kill a woman accused of being a kari, instead they banish them, marrying them to far away tribes. Their original community must never see a banished woman again and she must never visit her family. In a world where individual identity is closely linked to being part of a community such banishment maybe experienced as an extremely harsh punishment.
The perception of what defiles honour appears to have been continually widened to the point where it is now loose. Male control does not only extend to a woman's body and her sexual behaviour but all of her behaviour, including her movements, her language and her actions. In any of these areas, defiance by women translates into undermining male honour and ultimately family and community honour. Severe punishments are reported for bringing food late, for answering back or for undertaking forbidden trips etc. A man's honour defiled by a woman's alleged or real sexual misdemeanour or other defiance is only partly restored by killing her. He also has to kill the man allegedly involved. Since a kari is murdered first, the karo often hears about it and flees, aided by the fact that unlike the woman, he is both familiar with the world outside the house and can move freely in it. But karos who escape will not be able to return to normal life. Nobody will give such a man shelter, he remains on the run until he and his family are ready to negotiate with the victim, the man whose honour the karo defiled and who has kill his wife, sister or daughter. If both sides agree, a faislo [agreement, meeting] or jirga [tribal council] is setup, attended by representatives of both sides and healed by the local respectable, the tribal sardar [leader], his subordinate or a local landlord, depending on the status of the parties involved. The traditional justice dispensed by the jirga or fasilo is about restoration of the balance disturbed by a woman's alleged misdemeanour. It is not intented to elicit truth and punish the culprit. The balance is restored by negotiating comensation for damages. The karo who gets away has to pay compensation for his life to be spared, for the loss of honour of the man to whom the kari belonged and for the woman the man killing her lost. The amount of compensation is fixed within each tribe, but jirgas also decide how the compensation amount is to be disbursed. Compensation can be either in the form of money or the transfer of a woman or both. Several sardars think that their decisions effectively settle disputes and provide lastinf peace; however this claim is not borne out by the evidence. Such settlements are often flouted, and women killed despite sardar's decisions. To break a faislo or jirga settlement is not dishonorable. Killing and violence as well as deceit and breaking of promises are not dishnourable in a context of intending to restore honour, they are not crimes. This partly explains why sardar's mediation efforts do not bring lasting peace. Karos who have paid heavy compensation are sometimes killed years later, karis who are returned to their families on promises of safety may be killed. It is also believed if injustice occurs or compensation is inadequate, karo-kari killings can lead to a series of further killings.
Reasons for the increasing incidents of Honour Killings.
There are a number of reasons for the incidence of honour-killings:
1. Tribalization of formal laws:
Some observers have also pointed out that the "apparent tribalization of formal law" may have created the impression of official sanction for this orientation which plays in to the popular perception that it is acceptable to take the law in to one's own hands.
2. Brutalization of society:
"The progressive brutalization of Pakistani society over the past few decades" is partly responsible. It was brutalized when capital punishment was made a trivial matter by prescribing it as the minimum punishment for a variety of breaches of martial law regulation, and when several new offences added to the capital crimes. It was brutalized when Zia-ul-Haq gathered crowds to witness a hanging in public squares or when individuals in authority harangued their audiences with resolve to hang people by lamp posts…
3. Short-coming of official judicial system:
The resource to tribal justice and the implicit acknowledgement that rural populations fare best under this system, is widely and increasingly seen to be inefficient, expensive and inaccessible to the general public.
4. Awareness-one of the reasons:
More women are now aware of their rights. This credit largely goes to the awareness raising work women's rights groups but also to the media and mobility of women. Women's refusal to comply with the decision or traditions to violate their newly discovered rights has led to backlash from men apprehending loss from control, involving violence, killings and other such threats. "There is a fear of change (viewed as westernization) and the repercussions of this fear/reactions are borne by women. This reactionary trend results in a great number of honour killings in urban areas where women are more mobile and there is a bigger chance that their activities will be seen as suspect".
5. Seeking Of Heavy Weapons:
The increased access to heavy weapons by rural population in the wake of Afghanistan conflict, has made easier to settle honour issues, violently.
6. Economic Decline:
The economic decline of the vast rural populations has delayed education and democratization and increased the lure to exploit the honour system and kill women for the sake of compensation payment. The stress factors of growing poverty and deprivation contribute to the 'demand' factor.
7. Government's Failure To Seek Effective Measure:
Key among the contributing factors are the government's failure to seek effective measures to end the practice and the virtual impunity with which such killings are carried out. The bias laws like Hadood, Qiyas and Diyat have contributed to the increase in Honour Killings. The discrimination of the Police and the Judiciary also contributes to the increase in honour killings. Lack of training of medico-legal personnel, inadequate equipment and facilities, inappropriate focus on the virginity status, haphazard procedures, mistreatment of victims, the biased role of the office of the medical examiner and the wrong use of the medical evidence at trial, all lead to the increased level of discrimination against women which in fact is being carried out by our government.
Causes Of Honour-Killings:
1. The Widening Perception Of Honour-Killings:
The number of honour killings appears to be steadily increasing as the perception of what constitutes honour widens. There are honour killings for rape, for seeking marriage and for seeking divorce. Women are not given a chance to clear up possible misunderstandings. Tradition decrees only one method to restore honour-to kill the offending woman.
A woman subjected to rape brings shame to her family just as she would when engaging in a consensual relationship. "A woman raped shames the community and dishonours the man", according to Nafisa Shah-it does not dishonour the rapist.
Expressing a desire to choose a marriage partner and actually contracting a marriage with a partner of one's choice in a society where majority of marriages are arranged by parents are considered major acts of defiance. Women who marry a man of their choice take recource to state law, placing themselves outside the traditional shame; by the public nature of their action, they shame their guardians leading them to resort to violence to restore their honour. Frequently fathers bring charges of zina against their daughters who have married partners of their choice. But even when such a complaint is before a court, some men resort to private justice in the name of honour killings.
The most recent form of honour killings for seeking divorce occurred on 6th April 1999, when 29-year-old Samia Sarwar, a mother of two young sons was shot dead in her lawyer's office in Lahore. Her lawyer Hina Jilani was also threatened but not injured. The apparent reason for the killing was Samia Sarwar's family, as their honour was defiled by her disobedience to their wishes and her persistence in seeking divorce from her abusive husband. They had allowed her to return home and accepted the incompatibility of spouses, but would not allow her to divorce. Her father is a prominent businessman, her mother a doctor, while Samia studied law.
2. Misusing Honour Killings for Self Interests:
This scheme provides easy opportunities for the unscrupulous to make money, obtain a woman in supposed compensation or to conceal other crimes, in the near certainty that the honour killings, if they come to court at all, will be dealt with leniently. As Nafisa Shah puts it, a whole 'honour killing industry' has sprung up with the range of stake holders including tribes, people, police administration and tribal mediators, "vested interests…use of excuse as a blanket cover for a multitude of sins".
3. To Camouflage Murder:
Reports abound about men who, having murdered a man over issues not connected with the honour, kill a woman of their own family alleged as kari to the murdered man as an honour killing. By projecting the murder as an honour killing, the murderer will escape the death penalty and will evade the need to pay compensation for the murder.
4. Lust For Money:
The lust for money appears to have motivated many men to accuse their mothers, wives or female relatives of dishonouring their families and killing them in order to extract a compensation from the alleged Karos who escape the killings. A man in village Gujrani, killed his 85-year-old mother as kari in 1992 and obtained 25,000 Rs from the man he declared the karo.
5. Property And land:
The desire to obtain land may also lie behind some fake honour killings. "Land is the main issue in Sindh society, all the rest follows from that. If a woman owns land; her brother may kill her to get land; but even poor families now-a-days imitate this pattern even though there is no property to grab, simply to ascertain themselves as equals in the system".
6. To un pay loans:
Unable to repay loans, some men kill women of their own family to implicate someone in the debtor's family and ensure that the loan would be extinguished in compensation. In 1997, a magazine reported that a Magsi tribesman had killed his mother and labeled the local bank manager as karo. A jirga directed the supposed karo to pay a large amount of money to avoid his own killing and to compensate the aggrieved man for the loss of his mother.
7. To have a Specific Woman as Compensation:
The fact that women are often given as compensations when illicit relations are alleged, has led to further perversion of the practice. If a woman refuses to marry a man, he may declare a man of her family a karo and deman her in compensation for not killing him. In some cases, he may even for this purpose kill a woman of his own family to lend weight to the allegation.
Types Of Honour Killings:
1. Honour Killings For seeking Marriage:
The notion of the defilement of the male honour has extended over time to include not 0nly sexual 'misdemeanour' but also other acts of male control. Expressing a desire to choose a marriage partner and actually contracting a marriage with a partner of one's choice in a society where the majority of marriages are arranged by parents, are considered major acts of defiance. Such acts are perceived to defile the honour of man to whom the young woman belongs and who can expect a bride price at her marriage. Women who marry a man of their choice moreover take recourse to state law, placing themselves outside the traditional scheme; by the public nature of their action they shame their guardians leading them to resort to violence to restore their honour. Marriage arrangements are delicate and seen to involve serious balancing acts; any disturbance of this balance by a woman refusing a father's choice are considered to affect the father's standing in society.
Sometimes women are killed for alleged sexual impropriety in a marriage arrangement context when different male relatives have different marital arrangements in mind and the woman is caught in between conflicting requirements of obedience. 17-year-old Nagina Bibi in Tarali Kalan near Islamabad, was engaged by her father to her cousin, but her brother wanted her to marry his wife's brother. After her brother saw her talk to the cousin chosen by their father on the street, he and another brother on 14 April 1994 reportedly tied Nagina with a rope to a wooden post in their home, sprinkled kerosene on her and set her on fire. Neighbours had her admitted to a hospital with 75% burns, which the family claimed to be due to stove bursting. Nagina told doctors that her brother had set her on fire because she had disobeyed him. The Progressive Women's Association investigated the case and had a case registered against the brother. Nagina died after 23 painful days in hospital.
Watta-Satta marriages in which siblings are married to siblings of another family, put an additional burden on women to abide by parental marriage arrangement and to neither refuse nor seek divorce. All marriage arrangements are understood to be about balance, involving the transfer of women for an appropriate bride price; in Watta-Satta marriages the balance additionally involves exchange of siblings. The two couples so linked must remain perfectly balanced for the sake of the honour of the parents responsible for the arrangement.
2. Honour Killings For Seeking Divorce:
Several women who have sought divorce through the courts have been injured, killed or never been heard of again. Seeking divorce gives a strong signal of public defiance which calls for punitive action against such women to restore male honour within the traditional honour scheme.
One of the most recent honour killings of a woman seeking divorce occurred in the afternoon of 6 April 1999, when 29-year-old Samia Sarwar, a mother of two young sons, was shot dead in her lawyer's office in Lahore. Her lawyer, Hina Jilani was also threatened but not injured. A para-legal trainer Shahtaj Qizalbash was abducted by the killers but eventually released. The apparent reason for the killing, threats and abduction was that Samia's family felt their honour defiled by her disobedience to their wishes and her persisting in seeking a divorce from her abusive husband.
The Sarhad Chambers of Commerce and Industry, of which Samia's father is president and several religious organizations on 8 and 9 April 1999 demanded that Hina Jilani and Asma Jehangir be dealt with in accordance with "tribal and Islamic law" and be arrested for "misleading women in Pakistan and contributing to the country's bad image abroad". Several people belonging to religious organizations issued fatwas (religious edicts) against both women and promised to pay rewards to anyone who would kill them. In late April 1999, Asma Jehangir filed an F.I.R with police against 16 people, including prominent businessmen in Peshawar, for issuing death threats against her and her sister. She also called on the government to set up a judicial inquiry headed by a supreme court judge to investigate almost 300 cases of honour killings reported last year in Pakistan. No action is known to have been taken on either issue.
3. Honour Killings For Rape:
For a woman to be targeted for killing in the name of honour, her consent…or the lack of consent… in an action considered shameful is irrelevant to the guardians of honour. Consequently a woman subjected to rape brings shame on her family just as she would when engaging in a consensual sexual relationship. "A woman raped shames the community and dishonours the man", according to Nafisa Shah [Nafisa Shah: A Story in Black: Karo Kari killings in upper Sindh, Reuter Foundation Paper 100, Oxford, 1998, p.56. Statury Law under the Zina ordinance does not strictly differentiate between rape and fornication either, in fact, if a raped woman cannot prove that she did not consent to intercourse, she is considered to have committed zina, fornication, which attracts severe punishments.] …it does not dishonour the rapist.
In March 1999, a 16-year-old mentally retarded girl, was reportedly raped by a junior clerk of the local government of agriculture who took her to a hotel in Parachinar, N.W.F.P. The girl's uncle filed a report about the incident with police who apprehended the accused but handed over the girl to her tribe, in the Kurram Agency, a tribal area which has it's own legal and judicial system under provisions of the constitution of Pakistan. A jirga of Pushtun Tribesmen decided that she had brought shame to her tribe and that it's honour could only be restored by her death. She was shot dead in -front of a tribal gathering. The rapist was reportedly detained by police, for 'his own protection' when tribesmen demanded that he be handed over to them so they could execute him in accordance with tribal traditions. An Islamabad-based NGO, Sahil, in a press release expressed it's shock at the killing, saying it had been carried out not by an individual overcome with emotion, but by a community which sat in judgement and pronounced the victim guilty.
4. Killings Under The Pretext Of Honour:
"Honour Killings was punishment for violating the honour codes but the tribes have subverted the custom of killing not for honour but to obtain the compensation that the tribal settlement awards to the aggrieved person", Nafisa Shah summarizes [Nafisa Shah: A Story in Black: Karo Kari Killings in Upper Sindh, Reuter foundation paper 100, Oxford, 1998, p.5]. In honour killings if both the karo and kari are killed, the matter ends; if only the kari is killed and the karo escapes…as is often the case… he has to compensate the affected man, for the damage to honour he inflicted, for the woman's worth who was killed and to have his own life spared.
This scheme provides easy opportunity for the unscrupulous to make money, obtain a woman in supposed compensation or to conceal other crimes, in the near certainty that honour killings, if they come to court at all, will be dealt with leniently. As Nafisa Shah puts it, a whole 'honour killing industry' has sprung up with a range of stake holders including tribes people, police administration and tribal mediators. "Vested interests…use the excuse of honour as a blanket cover for a multitude of sins".[Newsline,April1998, p.18].
The lure of monetary gain appears to have motivated many men to accuse their mothers, wives or female relatives of dishonouring their families and killing them in order to extract a compensation from the alleged karos who escape the killing.
The desire to obtain land may also lie behind some fake honour killings. "Land is the main issue in Sindhi society", a journalist in Larkana said to Amnesty Inter, "all the rest follows from that. If a woman owns land, her brother may kill her to get her land;but even poor families now-a-days imitate this pattern even though there is no property to grab, simply to ascertain themselves as equal in the system".
Unable to repay loans, some men are known to have killed a woman of their own family to implicate someone in the debtors family to ensure the loan would be extinguished in compensation.
Nafisa Shah reports that a new twist to seeking pecuniary benefit in honour killings is emerging among the Sabzoi tribe in Kandhkot District. Here a kari is not killed, but returned to her family with the promise that she would be declared 'white' and acceptable if the family pays a heavy fine.
Nafisa Shah concludes that 'the honour killing industry' turns the honour upside down and indicates it's degeneration. Women have monetary worth in themselves in tribal society and can be exchanged for money, but to knowingly kill them on false charges of sexual activity for monetary purposes is equivalent to prostituting them. "For in the honour system to use a woman to make money would be a dishonourable act".
5. Punitive Domestic Violence Against Women:
Honour killings are but an extreme form of violence against women which appears to be approved by wide sections of society of Pakistan and is ignored by the state. Much of domestic violence in Pakistan is meted out to women in a habitual manner, arising from a male conviction that women deserve no other treatment. However some violence is deliberate and punitive, intended to punish a woman for perceived insubordination which translates in to an un pardonable transgression of a family or tribal norm.
The annual report of 1998 of the HRCP states bluntly: "Woman's subordination remained so routine by custom and traditions, and even putatively by religion, that much of the endemic domestic violence against her was considered normal behaviour…Domestic violence was common. A sample suevey showed 825% of women in rural Punjab feared violence resulting from husband's displeasure over minor matters; in the most developed urban areas 52% admitted being beaten by husbands…Burning by husbands or in-laws remained one extreme and widely occurring form of violence in Punjab. [The State of Human Rights in 1998, 1999, p.216 and p.10]. The survey found that more than two-thirds of both males and females considered disobedience a sufficient reason for beating. It also established that women in paid employment who had thus gained a degree of independence were more liable to physical abuse than women doing un paid labour.
Shanaz Bokhari of Progressive Women's Association in Islamabad told Amnesty International that since March 1994, when the organization was set up, it monitored 1,600 cases of women burned in their homes in the twin-cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad alone.
Police if they register a case at all, often accept bribes, then manipulate evidence and use sections of the penal code carrying lower penalties. They usually accept husbands' claims that the stove burst was accidental.
Courts, too, frequently side with the offenders and utilize the slightest element of doubt to acquit offenders. Due to social pressures witnesses rarely come forward, and the victims assuming that they will be cured do not wish to charge family members they have to return to or who may make life difficult for their children. Shahnaz Bokhari reported that of the 60 cases brought to prosecution (out of 1,600 recorded cases), only two led to convictions. Even when guilt is established, the laws of Qisas and Diyat facilitates compromise and protects the perpetrators from punishment.
Given a close link between woman's conformity to customary norms of chastity and the honour of family or tribe, insulting or humiliating women in an easy way to inflict to their families or tribes.
6. Women Trying To Escape Tribal 'Justice':
Girls and women who apprehend being targeted for killing for alleged breach of customary norms of honour have great difficulties finding refuge. Women are un-familiar with public transport, usually have no money and are highly visible, suspect and vulnerable to further abuse if they moved around alone. The high proportion of karis killed in comparison to karos able to escape, partly reflects this sheer inability of women to move in the public world.
Moreover, there are few safe places for a woman to escape to. Seeking help outside the family is fraught with danger for a woman. Not only does society blame a woman for being targeted for murder-the popular perception being that she must somehow deserve it-but by seeking outside help she risks being sent back to her husband or father in whose custody she is perceived to belong. Most important by seeking help outside, she adds shame to her husband and his family by making the issue public. No kari who escapes is ever forgiven, even if her innocence is recognized; some men are known to have traveled hundred's of miles to find and kill karis, even years after the alleged misdeed.
One of the few places where kari is safe is in the home of a tribal sardar [tribal leader], a pir [holy man] or a religious shrine; in these places women are safe but expected to strictly abide by social roles, hence they are not a refuge for girls and women who assert to seek their rights. While providing sanctuary, the shrine cannot give assistance in negotiating a deal, it is merely a place where a woman can rest till she returns to her family.
Few women reach state-run or private shelters of which, as all women's rights activists in Pakistan agree, there are simply not enough to cope with the demand. Those women who succeed in reaching a shelter show a high degree of social responsibility and awareness as they seek to pursue their rights through legal channels-but they may often not be aware that by approaching the state system, they virtually block their return to communities who they have shamed by this step. Moreover, safety in a shelter may be elusive.
The shortcomings of the state run Darul Ammans have been highlighted by many NGO's. They are not easily accessible in a woman's hour of need as entry is only by the orders of a magistrate. Once there, the refuge does not assist women to learn a trade which would make them economically independent later. Women spend their time in the shelter idly, in quasi-detention as they cannot leave except by authoritisation of a magistrate. However, as the person running one of the Darul Ammans in Sindh pointed out to Amnesty International, whatever it's shortcomings, at least the wishes of women are taken in to account with respect to their future.
Unable to escape forced marriages or violence, some women resort to suicide, driven to resort to the most extreme form of violence against themselves. No official figure of women's suicides exist and many women must be assumed to be simply buried to cover up the possible damage to the family's honour. "Suicide becomes the last resort especially for females who have far fewer opportunities than men to carry on a normal life after their family has turned against them. In a great many cases, the mental and physical violence leads to mental illness". [Dr.Tahira Shahid Khan: "Wedding Bells" in: The Review, 4-10 March 1999, p.8]
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