In Pakistan, the murders of women on the name ofhonour are prevalent, mostly in rural areas. The flow of such incidences isreported in urban cities of Pakistan also. The same killing to innocent womenand young girls is called differently according to their regions i.e. Karo Kariin Sindh, Kala kali in Punjab, Siyah kari in Balochistan, and Tora Tora inKhyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
It originates from Baluchistan and has travelledinto Sindh along with the Balochi people settled in the Sindh. Thus it hasbecome a deep rooted custom of honor killing. The practice of karo Kari isbelieved to be practiced largely in tribal areas of Kashmore, Khairpur,Shikarpur, Sukkur, Ghotki and Jacobabad. According to asurvey by Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust, 2011, Pakistan is number three inthe world as one of the most dangerous countries for women. Generally, the karo Kari incidents are reportedwhen a woman marry a man of her choice. In culture of the un-educated masses,woman is considered a property of man. Most of the time, a father decides forhis daughters to marry with a person who is arranged and selected by familyafter many investigation and customary transactions. Thus, a woman can’t marrya man of her choice, generally.
When she commits adultery mistakenly or demandfor divorce after her failure in relations with her husband or is raped byforce, she is treated an open shame for family. The moral etiquettes like hersmiling, talking, sitting and calling to a man other than husband are objected generallythough there no sexual relation exists. Many cases of such terrorism arereported in the press for honour killing baselessly where agricultural landsare main resource of income in a family. So many people plot karo Kari killingslike an industry. People do it with pride as they do not consider Karo Kari acrime. Most the murderers are backed by their family, feudal and tribesmen.Even educated families, where such an incidence occurs, practice it with pride andthey sacrifice such a woman in order to preserve their family honour – as shewas a goat. In fact, they are forced by blind social pressure.
The walled womenbecome prey of the killing whereas men, most of the time, run away or they demand a same woman for marriage frommen’s family as a compensation irrespective with whom that girl will be married,sometimes the groom is of her father’s age , or is approached by his relativefor compensation of money which is called a fine. It is one of the deadly evilsof society which give a way to murderer to walk out with freedom withoutprosecution by the court. Sometimes, men offer land or cash as theircompensation which women have no such alternatives. Exact statistics is unknown due tounder-reporting of such incidences, according to Human Rights Commission ofPakistan 2012. Every year, 1000 women and girls are killed in Pakistan.According to Research and Development for Human Resource for the year 2012, 605women and 115 men were murdered in the name of karo kari.
According to officialdata published by Pakistani senate in 2004, the highest number of reported karokari cases were from Punjab, then in Sindh, then in KP and then in SouthwesternProvince of Baluchistan. According toSyeda Nafeesa Shah MNA of Pakistan, Jacobabad was a leading district in honourkillings having around 55 to 60 cases in a month during 1998. She collecteddata from 1995-2004 out of 1482 registered cases and concluded that 16,00 pluskillings occurred, only 3% ended with conviction because in these cases therewas no political interferenence. At most of the cases, state judiciary andhuman right activitist were helpless. According toAsian Human Rights Commission, 2010 “the rule of tradition is often morepowerful than the rule of law”. Parliamentariansdon’t create laws against it because this system suits them.
In Islammurder and violence is forbidden in any way. Quran, in 6.151 says, “And do notkill a soul that God has made sacrosanct, save lawfully”. If we go back and tryto find out the root of honour killing in India, it may have evolved from thecustom of sati.
According to the custom of sati, when a man died – his womanburnt herself along with her husband. During British rule in India, Sir CharlesNapier imposed ban on this practice and made it punishable under his new law.But still that custom continued.
When he arrived in Sindh in 1848, he bannedkaro Kari in Sindh. Literature is one of the way to study history. In Sindh,sufi mystics Qadi Qadan (1463_1551) and his books ‘Qazi Qadan jo kalam’, hirothakur, Shah Abdul Karim Bulri (1536_1623) and his book Bayan Al Arifin, ShahInat Rizvi (c.
1613_c_1701) and his book Miyen shah and Inat Jo Kalam , Shahabdul latif bhitai (1690_1752) and his book “Shah jo Risalo” , none of the bookis mentioned with karo kari. Nowquestion is raised how it became a custom of Sindhi culture. It is assumed thatit came later from Baloch tribal areas as they have intense attitude towardswoman. Because of more empowering resources and good supply of water in Sindh, Balochpeople started to come into Sindh for their prosperity and started todemonstrate their martial habits in order to depress the original Sindhis. As soon as Baloch people moved to Sindh,cultural changes occurred.
And karo kari custom penetrated in Sindhi culture. Todayin Sindh, leading honour killing occurs in Jacobabad which is highly populatedby Baloch people. Jirga playsa pivotal role in the judgment of honour killing. It acts like a tribal council who makes unchallengeabledecisions. The tribal lords run Jirga. They are mostly feudal lords,parliamentarians, uneducated and financially strong.
The State supports thembecause MPAs and MNAs themselves defend their own customs as a tradition. If a human right activitist raises his voicefor fair trials, they are the one who violate such free and transparent probe.How JIRGA works – each party nominates their representatives and advisors,chief discusses it with both parties and then chief lord decides and announcesthe verdict in public. Both parties agree the decision of their sardar.
Jirgais illegal but still it runs in rural areas of Pakistan and is the onlyjudiciary and administrative forum. Tribal community prefers Jirga because it isunderstood as cheap and fast. For them, it is more favorable than judiciary as thecriminals escape from punishments.International human right law considerskaro kari as a social crime. According to UN (Convention on the Elimination ofAll Forms of Discrimination against Women) CEDAW women has a right to choose thepartner of her life. It binds State to prevent and protect women from genderbased violence. It is clearly stated in article 4 of CEDAW that “States shouldcondemn violence against women and should not involve any custom, tradition orreligious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to itselimination”.
United Nations has a clear strategy for human rights especiallywomen rights deprivation. UNO has organized machinery. They organizecommittees. Office of the high commissioner of human rights (OHCHR) is tryingto elevate human rights through reforms. United Nation’s role is not effectivebecause of local powers and states are corrupt at micro level.
Here local NGOsare more effective than UNO. NGOs pressurize government by street protests, andforce to corrupt government system to conduct a transparent probe. On 1stApril 2006, gender crime cell was established in National Bureau to tackleviolence against women. National Bureau welcomes to NGOs if they raise theirvoice and are obliged to provide them protection. In 2014, a law was passed forthe protection of women’s rights, Anti-Honour Killing Laws Amendment) Bill 2014 and Anti-Rape Laws(Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill. It is very difficult to eradicate honourkilling. I believe, there are three tools which can bring change. These aredemocracy, parliament and education.
First is democracy: The worstphase of human right violation was observed under military regime where ruleris above the law and can amend constitution according to his wishes and favors’.In Pakistan, the worst human right violation has been observed duringdictatorship. So, fair and transparent elections must be continued to establishdemocracy.Second is parliament: Goodpolicies must be implemented by ratifying international covenants, protocols,treaties, declarations like the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights of 1966, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and CulturalRights of 1966; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms ofDiscrimination Against Women of 1977; the Fourth World Conference on Women’s BeijingDeclaration of 1995, and the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action ofthe World Conference on Human Rights and national level policies. Third is education: Accordingto Economic Survey of Pakistan (2016_2017), Pakistan literacy rate is 58% and itis 48% in Sindh but we spend 2% of GDP on education sector. More educationmeans > more empowerment > means less anger, frustration, crime, andviolence against women. Most importantantly, only education can reshape themindset of people about the rights of women.
In nutshell, it has revealed that honour killing is notsolely result of customs and traditions but of many other contributing factors,like male dominancy, role of law enforcing institutes, Jirga system, feudalism,illiteracy, unemployment and ineffective laws. All these factors encourage theviolence against women. It’s most of the time backed by politicians, feudallords and Police.
Society needs to change their attitude through education,media, institutions, social and family reforms. It must be encouraged in the biggest forum of Pakistan that isParliament. Good policies must be implemented. Jirga system has to be banned,because Jirga system gives immunity to the murderers especially in rural areasof Pakistan. It is the state responsibility – in particular of Police, lawenforcement agencies and judiciary to decide what punishment must be given tomurderers.
The chief of a tribe does not provide justice to victims nor punishesto killer as per law of land or Islamic injunctions. Jirga system encourageskillers in the custom of karo kari and directly pressurizes to law enforcingagencies to deal the case with leniency and thus give a safe way to the killersso that they can escape from state punishment.