Monday, September 1, 2008

"Honour" Killing: Buried Alive

We have all heard stories of how women in some cultures are killed by family members in an attempt to "protect' the honour of the family. We have read of the "reasons" given for such cruelty which in some circumstances has been greeted with barely a shrug. We have read of the horrific deaths - and sometimes survival - of these women.

But today a story of singular cruelty made Page 26 of the Herald Sun newspaper here in Australia. I would like to bring it to your attention:

Shock after women buried alive
"ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani law-maker defended a decision by southwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they had wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned MP's to spare him their outrage.

"These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them", said Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province.

"Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid."

The women, three of whom were teenagers, were first shot and then thrown into a ditch.

They were still breathing as their bodies were covered with rocks and mud, according to media reports and human rights activists, who said their only "crime" was that they wished to marry me of their own choosing."

I then came across this story from Dawn:
"The Women Action Forum (WAF) has denounced the recently reported “honour killings” in Balochistan as barbaric and inhuman crime deserving maximum punishment, a statement issued here on Sunday said.

The strong condemnation came after media reports that five women were brutally tortured and buried alive in Roopashakh, Goth Qaboola, on the border of Naseerabad-Jaffarabad districts on July 14. Three of the victims had opted for court marriages of their own free will.

The WAF demanded that the federal as well as the provincial government must immediately take “strongest possible police and legal action on this heinous crime”.

The group said ironically Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri (BNP-A) stood on the floor of the Senate and went on the record defending the burying alive of five Baloch women in the name of “Baloch customary laws and traditions”.

It said in view of the PPP’s traditional pro-women rights stance, the WAF demanded that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari should make public statements strongly condemning both the brutal killing as well as the defence of customary laws and jirgas in the parliament by a Senator and the subsequent defence of that senator by the acting chairman of the Senate.

“Otherwise, the PPP’s support to former president Pervez Musharraf and the PML on the Women Protection Act (WPA-2006) will have been in vain.”

The action forum also condemned a recent jirga judgment because of which three minor girls – Tasleema (5), Aneela (3) and Shaneela (2) – from Noshehroferoze (Sindh) were still in hiding with their family, as the local jirga decided to hand them over as compensation in an alleged “honour” case.

Similarly, another jirga held in June on the Balochistan-Sindh border gave a verdict against 15 minor girls (one only four days old), permitting them to be given away as compensation to end an age-old dispute between two rival tribes.

Despite the fact that the high courts and the Supreme Court have declared such jirgas illegal and their judgments invalid, in both cases no police or judicial action has been taken against the jirga members or the perpetrators, the WAF noted."

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