Special Performance: Ajoka’s play on Honour Killings – Lahore July 26/11

AJOKA THEATRE
in collaboration with
SOUTH ASIAN PARTNERSHIP (SAP)
Cordially invites you to
A special performance of
Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae
They are honour-killing me O Mother

Written by Shahid Nadeem
Directed by Madeeha Gauhar
July 26th 2011
11.a.m
Ali Institute Auditorium
Ferozpur Road, Lahore

No Invitation passes required
Free Event

Fiction not as grotesque as fact
“Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae” (They are honour-killing me O Mother!) is a fictional account of the proceedings of a Panchayat of men sitting on judgment on their own women, who are accused of violating the tribal code of honour. But the fact is that reality in our society is much stranger and shocking than fiction, as we have learnt from the cases such as the murder of Saima Sarwar and the Mukhtaran Mai gang rape. The recent Supreme Court judgment on MUKHTARAN MAI case has made decision a laughing stock of the world.

“Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae” is part of Ajoka’s campaign to create awareness about the savage custom of “honour” killing and mobilise public opinion for its eradication. The play has been performed in big cities as well as in the areas badly affected by “Karo Kari” killings. Ajoka is already involved in theatre workshops and video screenings to enable community activists to mobilize support for the campaign against honour killings through theatre and the performing arts.

In its 27 year of uninterrupted and undeterned struggle to bring about social change through theatre, Ajoka reaffirms its determination to keep the flag of socially meaning theatre flying and be a part of the democratic movement for a secular, just and egalitarian society.

The theme song of the play is translation of a poem by Sindhi poet Seeikh Ayaz.

If any organization is interested in having this play performed in their communities do contact us at: ajokatheatre@gmail.com
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Pakistan Shariat Court Delivers Sham Justice in MukharaN Mai Gang Rape Case

After nine years of ‘delibrations’, Pakistan Shariat Court comes up with a verdict that convicts only one perpetrator in a proven case of Punchayat-ordered gang rape. Below is a statement by Pakistan’s civil society organizations.

Reference to Supreme Court’s today verdict on Mukhtaran Mai’s case, National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Insani Haqooq Itehad (IHI) has joinly issued a press statement.

Wasim Wagha
Insani Haqooq Itehad Secretariat
0300-5006915

Date: – 21-04-2011

Subject: – NCSW and members of IHI disappointed at the verdict of Supreme Court in Mukhtaran Mai case

The National Commission on the Status of Women and members of Insani Huqooq Ittehad, including PODA, Mehergargh, Aurat Foundation, Rozan, Sungi, Bedari, Ethno Media, Pattan and SPO convened an emergency meeting to express deep shock and disappointment at the verdict given by the superior court in the Mukhtara Mai gang rape case today. Although the judgment did prove that Mukhtaran was raped because one accused did get life imprisonment, while others were acquitted. We are surprised to see why only one accused was punished and others were acquitted on a charge of ‘gang rape’.

The Commission and members of civil society felt that this was the reflection of a biased and inefficient criminal justice system. This case has been a classic example of how the facts were distorted and documentation of the evidence was tampered with at all levels.

The group expressed concern at the long delays to dispense justice. The victim was raped in 2002 on the instructions of the local Panchayat. In 2005 the chief justice of the superior court took suo moto notice of the case. Despite the intervention it took more than nine years to come up with this decision, which is a source of concern for the women of Pakistan. It is feared that this decision might further strengthen the anti women parallel legal and judicial systems and mechanisms in the country. We feel that the criminal justice system too is not pro women and is patriarchal in nature. Impunity is the order of the day.

In cases of complaints women victims are burdened to provide series of evidences which is not possible for them. It is the responsibility of the police to do the investigation and come up with the requisite evidence. Currently, methods of recording evidence by police are biased against women; and that is one reason that they do not get justice from the courts.

There is also a need to look at the women’s representation in all those systems and mechanism dealing with matters of crimes and justice. Women’s lack of proportionate representation in lower and upper judiciary is paving the way for verdicts against women victims. There is dire need to start a rational discourse on the lack of women’s representation within the courts.

Today’s judgment has shaken the confidence and sense of security of women of Pakistan to stand up for their rights. It reflects a faulty investigation of the police and the loop holes that are left intentionally to side with the power brokers. The outcome of Mukhtaran case discourages survivors of rape and gang rape to report. However, we are proud of Mukhtaran Mai, who stood bravely against all intimidation and harassment and has refused to buckle under life threats. She has given a message of courage and hope to all women victims of our country. We consider her a role model for women of Pakistan.

At the end we also condemn the insensitive and pathetic attitude of some sections of media, who were grinning at the verdict and clapped after they recorded the responses on the judgment. The owners and editors of these media houses are urged to inculcate responsible and sensitive attitude in the practices of such chauvinistic reporters.

wasim_waghaa@yahoo.com

MukhtaraN Bibi: A (the) Great Punjabi Woman!

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MukhtaraN Bibi: A (the) Great Punjabi Woman!

mukhtar_mai_press-sm

Yes, its hard for me to just say ‘A Great…’ for the likes of MukhtaraN Bibi aka MukhtaraN Mai, and its not just because she makes me unashamedly proud of being a woman, a Punjabi, a Pakistani, a South Asian, a human.

Her story is known to us but it is not certain if it has been told. We know that a woman was punished by a jirga for the actions of her younger brother, June 2002 in Meerwala. On the orders of the jirga, MukhtaraN Bibi was gang-raped by the men of the aggrieved (influential) family to avenge the sexual liasons of her (lower status) brother with one of ‘their’ women.

MukhtaraN Bibi would have taken the rap of justice however hard but not that forced play on the ugly set of a live porn show. As is usual in such cases, the set that was erected to mount that gang-rape was conceived, staged and protected by local male elders, politicians, and law enforcers. It was an ‘honour’ kill without the dead body.

In the pit of physical pain, shame and humiliation, MukhtaraN Bibi may have come to  know the meaning of many words but we are certain of one: ‘Ignorance’. (‘My slogan is to end oppression through education‘).

It is not unusual for women to receive punishment for the actions of their male family members in a country where ‘honour’ means ‘male revenge’ tied to property, and killing for it is an acceptable social practice. Even in that environment, the punishment given to MukhtaraN Bibi by that local court of ‘justice’ was unacceptable for the larger society. Yet this was not the most unusual thing about this case. The most unusual thing was what MukhtaraN Bibi did after the porn show was over. Instead of going insane with shame, despairing to the point of committing suicide or accepting the status of a whore in the area, MukhtaraN Bibi stood up, gathered support, fought the system-backed aggressors, and won!

Oh victimized she was and survive she did as she changed the meaning of both ‘Victim’ and ‘Survivor’!

Even when the real criminals have still not been punished, MukhtaraN Bibi is victorious at many different levels. She has reclaimed her honour in her area and beyond, opened schools in her community to fight ignorance with the money she had received for her strengths and leadership, has become a continual source of inspiration and strength for women, and is one of the major reasons for creating an atmosphere for the jirgas to be declared illegal in Pakistan.

Though jirgas still thrive and continue to generate an ‘official’ form of community violence against women and men of lower social groups, a strong blow to this entrenched system of religio-feudal oppression has been dealt by MukharaN Mai; and, here comes a Punjabi poem for her in roman:

Sohn MukhtaraN!
By Fauzia Rafiq

Terae pairaN haiThhaN jutti
jutti thallae nissaldi mitti
soohae rang vich ghol
mathae tae lawaN
Ek mitti Punjabi
utae tera parchhawaN
Inj laggae Bibo
ajjo dil.dlairee pawaN

Sources and Links to more information:
Chronology of Events
Mai’s Profile on Wikipedia
‘Whose Justice? MUKHTARAN MAI: Punishment of the innocent’: Amnesty International
Mai’s Blog: Poland Travelogue
Interview with Mukhtaran Mai
A film ‘Mukhtiar Mai: The Struggle for Justice’ by Journalist Beena Sarwar


Continued…
Though women were being killed each day by jirgas to avenge male ‘honour’ and protect their properties prior to 2002, the demand to declare jirgas illegal had never gained centrality in the movements for protection of rights in Pakistan. Most women who get killed for male ‘honour’ belong to lower classes while the leadership of women’s and rights movements comes from middle and upper classes. MukhtaraN Bibi by taking a stand against the ‘ignorance’ of jirga-led perpetrators allowed rights activists around the world to support her case to the point where rights movements in Pakistan were enabled to put forward the demand to illegalize jirgas.

All through the years when MukhtaraN Bibi was fighting for her court case and against the value systems that have perpetuated such woman-abusing traditions, she never looked into the camera. It must have been hard to look at all that the world had come to represent to her.

mai
Not here…
Photo: michaelthompson.org

wd3
Or here…
Photo: tribuneindia.com/2005

mukhtar_mai_press1Or for the Press…

250px-mukhtaran_mai20051
For Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year? Almost!
Photo: wikipedia.org

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Leading protests… somewhat.

Now she may find that because of what she did and made other people do, the world has become better, and so, behold a glorious folk hero as she raises her eye at the world.

mukhtaranmai-smA folk hero raises her eye!
Photo: ndtv.com/debate

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

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