Monday, September 15, 2008

Karo-Kari, Part 7

We continue from Part 6 reviewing a 1999 Amnesty International report entitled PAKISTAN: Honour killings of girls and women.

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 brings shame on her family if she is raped.

In March 1999 a 16-year-old mentally retarded girl, Lal Jamilla Mandokhel, was reportedly raped several times by a junior clerk of the local government department of agriculture in a hotel in Parachinar, North West Frontier Province. The girl's uncle filed a complaint about the incident with police who took the accused into protective custody but handed over the girl to her tribe, the Mazuzai in the Kurram Agency. A jirga of Pathan tribesmen decided that she had brought shame to her tribe and that the honour could only be restored by her death. She was shot dead in front of a tribal gathering.

Nafisa Shah reports that women who expose rape and thereby dishonour their men are particularly vulnerable. Arbab Khatoon, raped by three men in a village in Jacobabad district, reportedly lodged a complaint with police. She was murdered seven hours later. According to local residents, she was killed by her relatives for bringing dishonour to the family by going to the police.5

Fake honour killings

In honour killings, if only the kari is killed and the karo escapes, as is often the case, the karo 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 many opportunities to make money, obtain a women in compensation or to conceal other crimes, in the near certainty that honour killings if they come to court will be dealt with leniently. Nafisa Shah speaks of an "honour killing industry" involving tribes people, police and tribal mediators.

An "honour killing industry" -- and liberals complain about American business!

In November 1997 Mussarrat Bibi, a mother of three children, pregnant and married for 11 years, was beaten to death by frenzied villagers in Chehel Khurd near Qilla Deedar Singh in Sheikupura district after rumours of her immoral behaviour spread. Inquiries revealed that the real reason for her death was that she had refused to work for the local landlords without payment. Two people were reported to have been detained briefly. Reports abound about men who have killed other men in murders not connected with honour issues who then kill a woman of their own family as alleged kari to camouflage the initial murder as an honour killing.

I wonder if any of these guys have a concept of the word "love"...?

The lure of compensation has in some cases led to publicly known distortions of truth. In Ghotki, a man reportedly vouched for his wife’s innocence after she had been attacked by his brother who alleged that she was guilty of an 'illicit' relationship. The husband took her to Karachi for treatment but when told that she would be permanently paralysed from the waist down, he reneged, declared her a kari and took a woman in compensation from the supposed karo's family.

That guy obviously doesn't.

The fact that women are often given in compensation when illicit relations are alleged has led to further perversions of the honour system. If a woman refuses to marry a man, he may declare a man of her family a karo and demand her in compensation for not killing him. In some cases, he may even kill a woman of his own family to lend weight to the allegation. Attiya Dawood cited an incident in Moorath village, related to her by the sister of the alleged karo. Her brother Amanullah had married a woman who had earlier been fond of her cousin Nazir, a married man with eight children. Unable to obtain her family's consent to marry her, Nazir murdered Amanullah, then killed his own innocent sister and declared both karo and kari. After a brief prison term, he was given Amanullah's wife, now a widow, in compensation for the supposed infringement of his honour.

There's family values -- "Til death do us part."

Punitive domestic violence against women

Honour killings are but an extreme form of violence against women. Domestic violence is also frequently intended to punish a woman for any perceived insubordination supposedly impacting on male honour. Sabira Khan, for example, who was married at 16 to a man more than twice her age, was shortly after her wedding in 1991 told by her husband that she must never see her family again. When in December 1993 she tried to break this rule, she said that he and his mother poured kerosene over her and set her on fire. She was three months pregnant. Despite 60 per cent burns she survived, badly scarred. She has fought since then to bring charges against the perpetrators -- so far in vain. The magistrate in Jhelum upheld her husband's argument that Sabira was insane and had set herself on fire. An appeal is pending in the Rawalpindi High Court bench.

Shahnaz Bokhari of the Progressive Women's Association in Islamabad says that since March 1994, when the organization was set up, it has monitored 1,600 cases of women burned in their homes in Rawalpindi and Islamabad alone. These are only the reported cases.

As this report was written in 1999, that's 1600 reported cases in only two cities in only five years.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan protects women in accordance with Islamic Law -- and it is much more progessive than in the West!

HRCP's 1998 annual report 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... A sample survey showed 82 per cent of women in rural Punjab feared violence resulting from husbands' displeasure over minor matters; in the most developed urban areas 52 per cent admitted being beaten by husbands."6

It's not just correct behavior -- it's normal!

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