‘Violence Against Women’? No! GENDER-CIDE in Pakistan!

I write this as tears unstoppable, fall from my eyes. The mourning for the five women buried alive in Balochistan was hardly over when the news came late last night that three more women were buried alive for speaking against the atrocities done earlier to Bibi Jannat, Bibi Fatmah, Bibi Fauzia, Bibi Benaam1 and Bibi Benaam2 in July of this year. Though we say Five, the sources suspect the women buried alive in July 2008 were Seven; this makes it Eight or Ten.

Though i do, but right now i am not crying for Three Five Eight or Ten women. I am crying for uncountable number of women killed for honour and revenge in Pakistan since the Eighties. But just to keep my feet on the ground, here is the approximate exact number for the last Six months: 225 for ‘honour’ and 722 for ‘no-honour’ = 947 or Nine Hundred and Forty Seven Only.

But wait, these are stats collected by Aurat Foundation, a non-profit organization that can not reach each neighborhood and each village of the country. The researchers would have had to rely on police records and government statistics, and in both these areas the numbers are known to NOT reflect the reality of the reference. Pakistan Human Rights Commission (PHRC), Asian Human rights Commission (AHRC), and women’s direct service and advocacy organizations show many complaints in their service registers about the police not registering the cases in these matters.

In Pakistan, some say, read it three times the number. Shall we read it 2841 instead of 947 then? That’s too much. Lets just double the number instead of tripling it: 1894 in 6 months. From January to June 2008. However, counting and numbers fast become irrelevant at times when what is happening to women in a country can no more be defined as ‘honour killings’, ‘domestic violence’, ‘wife assault’ or ‘violence against women’. It’s gender-cide.

This gender-cide began in Pakistan in the Eighties with the implementation of Muslim Sharia Laws, and has continued through the Nineties as Muslim extremists have flourished to gain commanding political ground in Punjab, Balochistan and the NWFP. Now reaching a level of urgency in 2008, it puts the largest majority of Pakistani women at the direct risk of sexual violence, torture and death. The ones most vulnerable are in rural and tribal areas where the terrifying control exercised by local influential men is protected by religion, law and the gun with zero tolerance for dissent.

The majority of women living in rural and tribal areas are at risk more than ever because though women were being killed and exploited for revenge, family honor, watta-satta, karo-kari and other similar social and cultural constructs, it was never as often, as brutal and as much as it is now with the blanket protection provided by Islamic laws, edicts and notions. For the reader who does not see the connection: a society that by law requires women survivors of rape, for example, to produce four Muslim male eyewitnesses of upright character to prove or even to register the case against the rapists, is setting women up for increased instances of rape, sexual violence, honour killings and murders.

So, at any pressure point in the life of a woman or in the life of her family or community, she will be the first casuality of justice, likely with no possibility of help from outside the room, home or village.

The case of Five Baloch Women Buried Alive this July, signifies the cruelty, cold-bloodedness and the absolute control enjoyed by the perpetrators in a situation of ‘family’ interaction. Not only that, it reveals the nature of deadly silences and conspiracies that involves such acts of inhuman violence carried out against unarmed women; and, we are still not certain about the number or the names of women involved.

In a village called Mirwah in Balochistan, two young sister and a friend studied in the nearby high school. As are the customs, they were likely ‘given’ or ‘taken’ by another relative/s for their sons from childhood. The three young women Benaam 1 (16-18), Benaam 2 (16-18) and Fauzia (18) did not want to marry where their ‘families’ wanted them to. They discussed this matter with two older relatives Fatmah (45) and Jannat (38); the matter was taken to the family elders or Jirga that went on to rule against the wishes of the three young women.

The three young women, however, were strong in their resolve to stand up to the unjust authoritarianism dished out to women by elders/jirgas. With support of Jannat and Fatmah, they went to the nearby city to contract civil marriages.

At this point, they were abducted by a group of armed men in a government vehicle and brought to another small village in the desert. The abductors included the fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins of five women, and some local political goons. Reports say that the men hit and shot the three young women, and then began to bury them while they were still alive.

Fatmah and Jannat tried to stop them, and were also shot and hurled into the ground alive.

This happened in the second week of July but we came to know of it at the end of August when Baloch Senator Yasmeen Shah with help from some courageous journalists, brought it out in the open. The alive burials of women were defended in the Senate; and, the extensive cover up and silencing that was underway was shamefacedly perfected by the provincial and federal power brokers.

Pressure from rights activists and women’s groups pushed Pakistan People Party (PPP) to take a stand amidst a power-balancing act as it took over the government. Leaders of women’s groups in Pakistan held a nation-wide consultation and released a statement of action titled Declaration on Burying Women Alive/Killing of Women in the Name of “Honour” and other Customary Practices issued by Joint Action Committees (JACs), Women’s Action Forums (WAF chapters), Insani Haqooq Itehad (IHI) and Violence Against Women Watch Groups. The Supreme Court of Pakistan took sou motu notice. The newly instituted government of the PPP responded as if it was going to do something about it but nothing has really been done. A post by the Karachi Committee of Communist Workers and Peasants Party (CMKP), an association of five workers peasants and womens organizations, says:
‘We feel that the issue regarding the atrocities meted out to five Baloch women who were buried alive on the orders of a tribal jirga not too long ago is being side-tracked, just like other similar issues before this one.’
Protest against atrocities meted out to five women buried alive

And then the news last night!
Three older women had also lost their lives in July for demanding basic human rights for women in Pakistan. They were from the same village: Mirwah.
They were buried alive at the same place: Babakot.

Death anywhere
but when i die
bury me in Babakot
so that i can become a part
of the sand
that layered the bleeding flesh
of my sisters

Send An Appeal Letter

Related Content
Poems
Swal Jannat da NahiN
Mir Wah de Benaam Chhori Number One
Mir Wah de Fauzia
Fauzia of Mir Wah
Kikli 13 July
Articles
Women Slam Govt on ‘Honour’ Killings in Pakistan
Blogsite
Love Life: The Story

Fauzia Rafiq
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

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Kikli 13 July

July 13, 2008: Paklistan vich ek jirgae dae hukm te punj zananiaN nooN maar maar ke zinda poor ditta geya te jehrae lokaN eh keeta ohnaN vich zananiaN dae peyo, bhra, chachae te ek minister dae sukae sun.

In honor of the five Baloch women buried alive on July 13 in Baba Kot

Anarkali aj zinda hoi
Nangi phhirae bzaraN
Zulm de laaT ch pinda lishkae
Shahwat dee akhh draaRaN

Akbar Rajae jewndi chhori
Lhore dae komal dil vich guDi
Ravi ro ro mukeya pani
Keha ishq te kehi kahani

DaiTaaN mainuN yaad nahiN rehndeyan
jo hoya, oh chaita ae
Meri agli nasal dae uThhdae siraaN nooN kupdae aye naiN
eh nikae moTae akbar asghar mullaN jirgae dadageer

Teen age vich gayak maneendi
punj gunaN de guthli
ZorawaraN dae durbaraN vich
apna huq jitawan paaroN jan bejani hoi

13 July
Anarkali tooN vul kyoN aaye
te
kithae tera dera

Jhok BalochaN dharti tuRfae
kukhheeN jewendiaN suTeyaN
pichhae na koi Akbar Raja
na durbar bagana

Peyo bhra
merae maaN-peyo ja
bun khaRae sarkaraN
pathar Babakot dae, jind-khhichwaiN hathiaraN

ef ai ar durj krawn
muqbrae banawn, lection jatawn
shayr chhapawan toN pehloN
bachRiyaN roohaN uD, huDaN toN paaraN

MaiN te badshahaN de ghulaam saaN
badshaahaiN ditti chunwa
eh kaun khhaRae poordae
merae apnae peyo bhra

Kikli kleer dee
Pug merae veer dee

KehRa tera abba nee
te kon tera bhra

MaiN jind se aap vari
koi yaar bachawan mari
Aithae vudh hyati nochdae
merae sujjan saak peyarae

Pug merae veer dee
Dopatta merae bhai da

Kinnae terae putar nee
te kinnae chaachae taa

Shahzaadae salim saarae, eh akbri dae maarae
qabraN swaniaN te aa muqbrae ussaran
Maarkae jo maran
vunjh GuruwaN nooN saaRan

Kikli kleer dee
Pug merae veer dee
Dopatta merae bhai da
Te fiTae munh jawai da

Kikli kleer de
Pug meri Heer de
Dopatta Shah BhaTai da
Te jugg meri Mai da

A punjabi poem by Fauzia Rafiq
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

Related Content:
Kikli 13 July Punjabi Sahmukhi
Swal Jannat da NahiN
Mir Wah de Benaam Chhori Number One
Mir Wah de Fauzia
Fauzia of Mir Wah
Kikli 13 July
Vaen (mourning)
Love Life: The Story

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