In the name of honour

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Islam gave the rights to women… Live, get education and get married as per your own choice as there is no single word in the Holy Book – the Quran, which denies the rights of women. There are some people in Pakistan, who wants to suppress women and using them in the name of Islam to fulfill their nefarious designs, said Nadia Ahmed, an Medical Office Assistant, who migrated from Pakistan to Toronto around 5 years ago.

The common practices in Islamic Republic of Pakistan are: forced marriages, violence against women, abductions, women abuse, sexual harassment, and physical torture. Everyday’s newspaper shows a horrific picture of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan but there are a large number of unreported cases.

Honour killing has become a common custom especially in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In the cases of honour killing the family members (male family members) kill the female family members on the suspicion of having illicit relations or on exercising their right to choose their life partners, as according the culprits are actions that would cause dishonour to the family.

In paternal and fundamentalist society like Pakistan men have the final say in the family system and if they see that a woman has dishonoured the family, it is usually dealt with through violence. Karo-Kari, Vani, marriage with the Holy Book – Quran is increasing instead of decreasing as the world has entered in 20th century, but women are still being treated like slaves.

It is not only illiterate people; even highly educated people kill their daughters, mothers, sisters and wives in the name of honour. A couple of years ago, a famous gynecologist in Peshawar, a city of Pakistan, accompanied with her driver went to see her daughter at a lawyer’s office and asked the driver to shoot her daughter and he obeyed her order. The victim’s father is the Chairman of Chamber of Commerce and she belonged to highly educated family. The 25 years old – ‘F’ wanted to get married as per her own choice but her mother decided to take F’s life rather than seeing her married to the man of her choice.

“Karo-Kari” means black man-woman who committed adultery or have friendship but actually, it doesn’t happen due to karo-kari all the time. 32 years old, Bashir Solangi was sitting with his friends in the fields, when during a conversation; he fought with his friends and killed one of them. He came home, took his gun and shot his sister, who was cooking in the kitchen allegedly that his sister had illicit relations with his friend so he killed his sister in the name of honour while in fact; he saved himself from a murder case.

It is not only a single case; there are several cases when men killed women family members just to save themselves. Another reason for karo-kari or honour killing is to avoid division of property. Islam has fixed a share of inheritance for the women but the male family members denies the female family members their rights and use alternative means to save the property division.

A report stated that the research-based Madadgaar Helpline has been compiling data on the violation of the rights of women and children in Pakistan for the last 10 years. The report indicated that during the last year, 539 women were raped and then killed. An additional 179 women were raped by individuals but their lives were spared, while 133 were gang-raped.

As many as 296 women fell prey to the dark custom of Karo-kari, “honour killings” done to restore family honour after a woman exhibits “indecent behaviour”: insisting on choosing her own spouse, flirting, seeking a divorce, or being raped. One hundred fifteen women were burned. Five hundred thirty-five women were also kidnapped. Forty-one women were trafficked, while the number of forced marriages and Vani cases (child marriages) hovered at 46 and 29, respectively. Overall, 5,391 cases of violence against women and girls were reported in 2010.

There is no law in Pakistan who could protect the victims of honour killings, a bill sought to strengthen the law against the practice of “honour killings”, moved in the Parliament but was rejected in 2005.

Another female victim was Fakhra Yunus who embraced her death in Italy recently caused by acid burns and her body was brought back to Pakistan. Media ran the story and showed her previous and after pictures. The beautiful dancing girl Fakhra Yunus was got married with Bilal Khar, an influential family of Punjab. She alleged her ex-husband to pour the acid while she was sleeping.

Bilal Khar was never prosecuted. He is the cousin of the Hina Khar, Foreign Minister of Pakistan. One blogger wrote:

…one acid-burn victim leaped to her death. One acid-burn perpetrator sits comfortably in his home. And one-acid burn perpetrator’s cousin is presenting prizes to a documentarian whose Oscar-winning film was about acid-burning women.

That is the true picture of Pakistan. Just imagine, there are only few cases which get media’s attention.

How many women will have to suffer in the waiting of a new dawn, so they can live as human beings?

Rana Rizvi

Rana Rizvi är frilansskribent och har en Master i journalistik från University of Karachi, Pakistan. Rana är bosatt i Toronto, Kanada sedan 10 år tillbaka och arbetar för närvarande som tolk och på bankkontor. Rana har skrivit för de pakistanska tidningarna Dawn, The News och Star daily i 16 år. Hon har skrivit ett stort antal forskningsartiklar, nyhetsartiklar och krönikor om olika sociala, politiska, kvinno, barn och miljöfrågor för tidningar i Pakistan, Indien, USA, Storbritannien och Sverige.


Tidskriften Sydasien rapporterar om Indien, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan och Maldiverna. Sedan 1977 följer Sydasiens nätverk av skribenter och fotografer det som sker i regionen. Vårt gemensamma mål är att erbjuda kryddstarkt innehåll och bidra till fördjupade kunskaper.


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