Slain in the name of honor
“Don’t kill me please… I have done nothing wrong… I was just enjoying the rain, I don’t want to die… please … for God’s sake, brother, don’t kill me!”
I was begging and trying to hide myself behind my mother who was also begging for my life. She was asking my cousins to pardon me for bringing shame to the family. We kept pleading, but they shot me. I was dying, as the words “family honour” kept flashing across my mind.
It was then that I woke up, screaming. With my pulse racing faster and tears running down my face, I found it hard to get out of the shock that the nightmare caused me.
I realized that my dream was the effect of a piece of news I read a few days back. It was a story of two teenage sisters, Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, who had been accused of tarnishing their family honor by making a video of themselves dancing in the rain.
The girls, aged 15 and 16, can be seen in the video running around in traditional dress with two other younger children outside their bungalow in the town of Chilas, the northern region of Gilgit- Baltistan. This footage somehow was circulated in their neighborhood via mobile phones, causing outrage in the town. The girls were shot by five gunmen in their own home. According to media reports, one of the killers was the step-brother of the girls.
Always the victim
This is not the only incident that has shaken human rights activists. Last year, four women are believed to have been killed by tribal elders for clapping and singing with men at a wedding party in the remote northwestern village of Kohistan in Pakistan.
A tribal council of clerics – known as a “Jirga” – reportedly condemned the women to death for “fornication”’ and dishonoring their families’ names. Their actions were said to have brought shame on the community, which frowns on men and women dancing together or fraternizing at all. Such incidents are very frequent in the almost all the provinces of Pakistan, particularly in the far-flung areas.
According to The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), hundreds of women were killed in so-called honor killings in the country last year. In its annual report, the HRCP said 913 girls and women, including 99 minors, were killed in 2012.
Will the mindset change?
The government of Pakistan passed a bill in December 2004 making honor killings punishable under the same laws as murder. But this bill did not alter the provisions whereby the accused could negotiate a pardon with the victim’s family under Islamic law.
Most of the killings were done to protect the so-called family honor and in most cases, it is a result of decisions taken by tribal courts. The HRCP also noted that honor killings were not restricted to the Muslim community as around seven Hindu and six Christian women were also killed. Also, the number of honor killings in Pakistan usually ranges between 600 and 900 each year.
As a woman, I have failed to understand how a man can restore his honor by killing women? Why does it become a matter of pride for a family when they sacrifice their own blood and flesh in the name of honor? What is so honorable in taking someone life?
Author: Unbreen Fatima
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Date04.07.2013 | 12:59