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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The honor killing: The vicious facet of society.

The honor killing: The vicious facet of society.

(By Kashif Sarmad)

An honor killing is the murder of a victim (almost always a female) by, or the behest of, close family members with the aim of undoing the loss, or perceived loss, of wider family status owing to the actions or status of the victim. Victims are usually killed for actions seen to be sexually immodest. While honor killing is widespread among rural Muslim tribes in Pakistan, Iran and various Arab countries, it is much rare in the Muslim communities of Malaysia and Indonesia. It had also occurred among Sikh adherents.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) estimates that the annual worldwide total of honor killing victims may be as high as 5000 women.

Human Rights Watch defines “Honour Killing” as follows:

Honour crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A women can be targeted by (Individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of sexual assault, seeking a divorce-even from an abusive husband in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.

For example, honor killings can sometimes target women who choose boyfriend, lovers or spouses outside of their family’s ethnic and/or religious community.

Similarly, in certain cultures a raped single woman will garner to hide price if she marries; this she will be regarded as a worthless burden on the family, which can be a death sentence.

Some women who bridge social divides, publicly engage other communities, or adopt some of the customs or the religion of an outside group may this also be attacked. In countries that receive immigration, some otherwise low-status immigrant men and boys have asserted their dominant patriarchal status by inflicting honor killing of one of their own, when they agree that the family is the property and asset of men and boys.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, numerous cases of honor killings have been reported in Pakistan. During the year 2002 in Pakistan about four hundred people (Men& Women) were killed in the name of Karo-Kari(Karo Means Black Men) (Kari Means Black Women) in Sindh out of 382 (245 Women-137 Men). The phenomenon of the killing in the name of honor has direct relevance to the illiteracy rate, as these killings are more common in the areas where the literacy rate is lower.

According to a report Issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HARCP), Jacobabad District ranked first in terms of murder in the name of Karo-Karo (66 Women, 25 Men). Jacobabad district has a literacy rate of 23.66%, the least literate district of Sindh after Tharparkar District, and Thatta District. After Jacobabad, the Ghotki District witnessed the highest number of the murders in the name of Karo-Kari (13 Men, 54 Women). After Gotki, Larkana is the district with the next highest murder rate in the name of Karo-Kari (24 Men, 38 Women). Larkana as well, has a low literacy rate of 34.95. This is lower then even Naushero Feroz District, Dadu District and Khairpur District, having 39.14, 35.56 and 35.50 percent literacy rates respectively. These districts of the upper Sindh have low literacy rates but high feudal influence in every walk of life. Jacobabad, Ghotki and Larkana are those districts of Sindh were not only the illiterate ones, but trial chieftains are also in large number.

According to a report released by the HRCP, the cases of Karo-Karo are mostly settled as Jirgas, the private and parallel judicial system of Chieftains. However, districts of lower parts of Sindh like Tharparkar, Badin and Thatta experience nominal occurrences of honor killing because they have lower amount of feudal influence there.

An Amnesty International Statement adds:

The regime of honor is unforgiving: women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an opportunity to defend themselves and family members have no socially acceptable alternative but to remove the stain on their honour by attacking the woman.

Some sources suggest that honor killings occur regularly in the Muslim world, Islamic religious authorities prohibit extra-legal punishment such as honor killings, since they consider the practice to be a cultural issue. They believe that since certain pre-Islamic cultures have influence over a number of Muslims, murderers of females use Islam to justify honor killing, but claim there is no support for the ct in the religion itself. The death penalty cannot always be applied in the Sharia as murders are a type of “Qisas” (retaliation) crime 2-178. This means that the deceased’s family should be offered the choice of capital punishment or “Diyya” (blood money) and no execution can take place without them opting for death. Because a relative(s) is usually responsible for the honor killing, it is unlikely that the deceased’s family will punish one of their own for the crime. However other punishments can be legislated and the murderer cannot pardon himself.

Generally, women in Pakistan face staggeringly high rates of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence while their attackers largely go unpunished owing to rampant incompetence, corruption, and biases against women throughout the criminal justice system. Women who report rape or sexual assault encounter a series of obstacles. These include not only the police, who resist filling their claims and misrecord their statements, but also medico legal doctors, who focus on their virginity status and lack the training and supplies to conduct adequate examinations.

Women victims of domestic violence encounter even higher levels of unresponsiveness and hostility, as actors at all levels of the criminal justice system typically view of domestic violence charges by trying to reconcile the concerned parties rather then filling a report and arresting the perpetrator, and the few women who are referred to medico legal doctors for examination are evaluated by skeptical physicians who lack any training in the collections of foresenic evidence. When asked about the domestic violence victims who have been examined at his office, the head medico legal doctor for Karachi explained that “25 percent of such women come with self-inflicted wounds”.

According to the constitution of Pakistan the security of person is stated as under:

Right of life is guaranteed by Article 9. Right of “access to justice to all” is a well established/recognized inviolable right embodied in Article 9 of the constitution and is equally found in the doctrine of “due process of law”. Right includes the right to be treated according to law, the right to have a fair and proper trial by an impartial court of Tribunal.

Justice, therefore, can only be done if there is an independent judiciary which should be separate from Executive and not at its mercy or dependent on it. The provision amounts to a declaration that no person is to take life or liberty of another person, except under a law authorizing him to do so. The person, whose life is threatened, is therefore, entitled to require the person seeking to deprive him of the right to live or move freely, to show the legal authority under which he is purporting to act. No public functionary or private person may injure or confine a person, unless he has a legal warrant to do so. (1931)35 CWN 755. (P.C). The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) said at Arafat on the occasion of his farewell pilgrimage; that “your lives and property are sacred and inviolable as the sacred and inviolability of this very day (of pilgrimage)”

The Constitution of Pakistan's article 4(1) and (2) clearly state that "To enjoy the protection of law and to be treat in accordance with law is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being with in Pakistan. In particular (a) no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law, (b) no person shall be prevented from or be hindered in doing that which is not prohibited by law; and (c) no person shall be compelled to do that which the law does not require him to do."

Universal declaration of Human Rights article 24(2) says, "Recognition of the inherited dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world."

Moreover, as far as the Hudood Law is concerned it’s besieged by preconceived notion and prejudice. The Hudood ordinance says, where the victim of rape, usually a female; has to produce four witnesses to prove the case. Likewise, the law states that these witnesses should be law abiding pious Muslims. And for falsely accusing a person of unlawful intercourse (Qadhaf), the petitioner will get eighty stripes as punishment.

As for the trial in rape cases, typically, in the words of a Lahore district attorney, “The past sexual history of the victim Is thrown around and touted in court to the maximum” Furthermore, women who file rape charges open themselves up to the possibility of being prosecuted for illicit sex if they fail to “prove” rape under the 1979 Hudood Ordinances, which criminalize adultery and fornication. As a result, when women victims of violence resort to the judicial system of redress, they are more likely to find further abuse and victimization.

I wondered, after reading that how it feasible is that four people walk around at the place of rape and if they are then, they will stop the person committing rape instead of waiting their turn to give statement in court? Or women should take four people with her, so if she gets raped, she would take them to court for statement. Are the rapists dim-witted enough to commit rape in public? The predicament is women will not go in the court to register case against rapist in fear of getting punishment of eighty stripes.

Since 2002, for the first time in Pakistan, there were handsome majority of women in central and provincial parliament but ironically it didn’t turn to be a red letter day for women of Pakistan. They expected to present aggressive aptitude to bring necessary legislations for women and to compel government to implement it. They failed to do so and it does not justify sidelining their failure with any political statement.

Specifically, the honour killing is the unhealed injury on society by our counterfeit and inhumane culture and norm. I reckon that the civil society and government should play crucial and swift role to eliminate not only honor killings but every single features of injustice with human being and specifically with women. There are some suggestions as under in order to counteract this issue:

1. Government should establish legal body with law enforcement agencies to shield women in any matter in well standard comportment and to pressurize Law enforcement agencies to conduct inquiry of cases (against women) in lawful manner and promptly.

2. The NGO’s and Government should jointly broaden education in rural areas and/or effected areas; they should launch an awareness programme in which they will literate women about their civil and constitutional rights in their own regional language.

3. Government should set up a panel of lawyers in every court of law and panel of doctors in every hospital to deal with any case of women without any hassle and red-tapism.

4. Government should repeal or amend the Hudood Laws to give relief raped victim, instead of more victimized by the paradoxical law, which is full of “ifs and buts”.

Until and unless government, civil society and law enforcement agencies won’t come and counter this sinfulness, our whole civilization will give a look of butcher house where people will behead the humanity everyday and every single moment.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Women In Pakistan--The Dilemma

The Women in Pakistan-The Dilemma

(By-Kashif Sarmad)

The study of women in Islam and Muslim society is complex, reflecting the diverse and varied realities of Muslim women and Muslim societies throughout the ages. Alongside ideals embodied in the Quran and the traditions (hadith) of Muhammad (P.B.U.H), one must look at the actual condition of Muslim women in diverse time periods and sociohistorical contexts. The status of women in Islam was profoundly affected not only by the fact that Islamic belief interacted with and was informed by diverse cultures, but also, and of equal importance, that the primary interpreters of Islamic law and tradition were men (religious scholars or ulama) from those cultures.

The Situation in Pakistan for women is not the amicable. Still now young girls are being hanged in the name of VANI and KAROKARI (honor killing). Young girls are forced to marry by their parents. Young girls are afraid to go to gain their education because brutal and illiterate flag bearers of society are ready to throw acid on them. The registered rape ratio has been increased. I mentioned the word registered here because most of the rape cases never been reported due to the scare of ill fame of the community or family.

In some cases some particular families do not make relationship out of the community of family which is the biggest draw back of this Islamic society. This thing creates the caste system which is highly prohibited by the Islamic teachings; this negates the equality of all human beings. The marriage of women with Quran is also the biggest issue in Sindh.

I would also like to mention the statement based on ground reality conditions of the women in Pakistan by Hina Jilani (the lawyer and human rights activist): "The right to life of women in Pakistan is conditional on their obeying social norms and traditions.

"The United Nations has also concerned with the equality and rights of apposite gender in Pakistan: "...improving the status of women also enhances their decision-making capacity at all levels in all spheres of life...International Conference on Population and Development (1994)

The Constitution of Pakistan (1973) guarantees this equality between women and men. It has the following provisions for affirmative action for women:

Article 25 states: "All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection before the law; there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone; nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the protection of women and children.

"Article 34 states: "Steps shall be taken to ensure the full participation of women in all spheres of national life."

Pakistan has also adopted several of the international commitments to protect basic human rights and gender equality. These include:

1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

International Labor Standards and ILO Basic Human Rights Conventions, e.g. Freedom of Association and Protection of the Rights to Organize 1948;

1.1 Discrimination in Employment and Occupation 1958.

2. The Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (1985).

3. Education for All, Jomtien,1990.

4. Convention on the Rights of the Child, (CRC) ratified by Pakistan in 1990.

5. Agenda 21, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio, 1992.

6. Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, Vienna Conference on Human Rights, 1993.

7. The Programme of Action, International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 1994.

8. Platform for Social Development, World Summit on Social Development, Copenhagen, 1995.

9. Beijing Platform for Action, Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 1995.

10. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, (CEDAW), Pakistan acceded in 1996.

Moreover, Pakistan has been seeking to operationalise its commitments in a variety of ways. Implementation of the government’s Social Action Programme (SAP) started in 1992/3 with a major focus on removing gender disparities, especially in basic education and primary health. Efforts are under way to include gender concerns in all planning initiatives. The Ministry of Women’s Development, Social Welfare and Special Education is also striving for greater gender sensitization of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1998-2003)

Below are some human social indicators for females and males in Pakistan, taken from both the Global and South Asian Human Development Reports, as well as from Pakistan’s own Integrated Household Survey, 1996/97. It should be recognized, though, that there is a lack of gender-disaggregated data available:

A. Literacy rates: Female 28% Male 51%

B. Gross primary enrolment: Female 64% Male 80%

C. Combined enrolment ratio: Female 25% Male 50%

D. Maternal mortality: 340 per 100,000 live births

E. Mortality rate (1-4 years): Females 12% higher than males

F Labor force participation: Female 11.39% Male 69.1%

G. Earned income share: Female 20% Male 80%

H. Seats in Parliament: Females 3.4%

I. Top administrative/managerial jobs Females 3%

Amnesty International has also called on the Government of Pakistan to take urgent measures in the following three areas in fulfillment of its obligation to provide effective protection to women against violence perpetrated in the name of honour and to end the impunity currently enjoyed by its perpetrators.

1. Legal measures undertake a review of criminal laws to ensure equal protection of law to women.

Adopt legislation which makes domestic violence in all its manifestations a criminal offence. The UN Special Reporter on violence against women developed a framework for model legislation on domestic violence [14] which Amnesty International recommends is used when drafting legislation against such crimes.

Make the sale of women and girls, the giving of women in marriage against financial consideration and as a form of compensation in lieu of a fine or imprisonment a criminal offence.

Provide women victims of violence with access to the mechanisms of justice and to just and effective remedies for the harm they have suffered.

Ensure that the provincial home departments, commissioners, deputy commissioners and senior police staff take notice of all reports of honour killings and ensure that every single case is investigated and brought to prosecution.

Abolish the death penalty and commute all death sentences.

2. Preventive measures

Undertake wide-ranging public awareness programs through the media, the education system and public announcements to inform both men and women of women's equal rights.

In particular, provide gender-sensitization training to law enforcement and judicial personnel to enable them to impartially address complaints of violence in the name of honour.

Ensure that data and statistics are collected in a manner that makes the problem visible.

3. Protective measures

Ensure that activists, lawyers and women's groups can pursue their legitimate activities without harassment or fear for their safety by providing adequate police protection and pursue all such threats with a view to punishment.

Expand victim support services provided by the state or non-governmental organizations; they should be run as places of voluntary recourse for women and their purpose should be only protective; they should be available all over the country, adequately resourced, and linked to legal aid, vocational training and with adequate provisions for children.

Here I will emphasize on one vital and less addressed issue of the women. One of the neglected and burning issue is the Girls are severely fatalities of forced marriages by their parents. Some of the parents do that because of illiteracy, poverty and bogus community system. In this modern and advanced age, parents and I must say even educated parents are averse of the love marriages. I am not trying to convince that love marriages are the only way out. But the truth is that, girls has right to choose their life partner. She must be given chance to see that person and to analyze according to her needs and demands. Parents should respect the say of the girl whether it’s in affirmative or negative.

I have seen literate families who are forcing their girls on the marriages and imposed their decisions as final decree. They think that whatever decisions they make is good for their kids and never consider their kid’s will in that most vital decision of their life.

The irony of fate is that government has done nothing in this regard. Just passing the statements or condemning the acts is not enough. They must take some practicable and applicable measurements in order to eliminate this evil act of society as soon as possible through all means.

Islam is also against the forced marriages. There are some examples in the Islamic history that the forced marriages were bete noire by our beloved Holy Prophet (PBUH).

According to the Islamic Law, women cannot be forced to marry anyone if they object. As it is attributed to Muhammad (PBUH):

Ibni `Abbaas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of God, Muhammad (sws), and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice [between accepting the marriage or invalidating it]....the girl said: "Actually I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right [to force a husband on them]". Sunan Ibn Maja 1873.

Article 16 of the human rights universal declaration about it marriage mentions that any person has a right to choose the life partner, unrespectable of cast, color, nationality and community.

“Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16.

Our forefathers have given us the traditions which might were best for those epochs. Now those traditions, rituals and customs need some modification according to this present era. Some of them are out dated and some of them are injurious to the humanity.The government of Pakistan must take some steps to prevent this injustice. They should do like mandatory that before marriage girl should be met with lady judge or lady magistrate in personal and then that lady magistrate issue the certificate of clearance for that marriage after consulting the bride and telling the bride about her constitutional and religious rights. It’s like suggestion to prevent the injustice with the young and immature girls who been victimized by the emotional and sentimental situation made by their parents.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Reconstruction of politics in Pakistan; A little thought

I have been witnessed that every young blood has many desires for future. Someone wants to be Engineer or Doctor or Police officer. I have never seen a sole person who wants to be a politician. This question revolve in my mind that why youths are afraid of coming into the political arena of Pakistan? Are they having some sort of fear? Are they not eligible enough to serve the poor nation of Pakistan? Are they just the followers not the leaders?

Politics itself is a vast and has multiple dimensions. People use to say that it’s a big drain of society but until the pundits of flag bearer of society won’t put exertion, how it would be hygienic. I consider and propose that spanking new blood should move toward in this field without considering it trivia. It is imperative and superior way to help poor people out of the turbulence of life.

I could realize how many hardships the young generation will face in this field due to corrupt and wicked politician who are already on the political platforms through unlawful means. But the matter is the courage and dedication for doing something first-rate for those people who looking ahead to us to set the new drift in the political manifestoes in the politics of Pakistan.

People of Pakistan are waiting for the right leader and I strongly believe the there are scores of high-quality leaders are hidden among the young people who are averse of the political pasture. We people really want to see the change in the traditional, ridiculous political culture and I am obliged to say that this only could ensue when the young and educated people come ahead with the ambition that they will take Pakistan to the culmination of success.

Jinnah always encourages youths to jump into the politics. The students were the reason for the many revolutions around the world. It doesn’t mean that they (students) start the politics in the school, colleges or in universities. One should join the politics when he/she really equipped with knowledge and education. Without these things one cannot be thinking to be a good politician or expect any change in the society.

Kashif Sarmad