Crying out for justice

Published: June 15, 2011

A middle-aged Shaheen bibi in Haripur was dragged from her house, assaulted, stripped naked and paraded through the streets of her village, with the blessing of a local jirga, after her son was accused of raping a woman.

Recently, a news report in this paper revealed that a middle-aged woman in Haripur was dragged from her house, assaulted, stripped naked and paraded through the streets of her village, with the blessing of a local jirga, after her son was accused of raping a woman. The woman claims she is traumatised not just by the event but also by the apathy of her community, from which no one came to help. While the apathy is shocking, on reflection it’s also understandable given the prevalence of violence against women in the country, and the fact that while for most women in the village, the act was probably justified, expected even, others feared being meted the same treatment.

This is also because the concept of a woman as a symbol of society’s honour, has made her even more vulnerable, with women being raped or paraded naked if someone influential is angry at their father, brother or son. Meanwhile, after such crimes are committed, more often than not, recourse through the law is not an option. Even if a woman gets her voice heard, justice may not be served. Take for example the Mukhtaran Mai case, where five of the six accused of gang-raping her were acquitted. Years on and justice has still not been served; she continues to file appeals. Such is the tenacity of the prejudice against women, such is their weakness, that one wonders if justice can ever be done. The mother, humiliated because of something her son allegedly did, can no longer even live in the same community. If she moves, her humiliation will travel with her. It is ironic that precisely that which can be argued to promote out culture, the position that women are accorded in our society as mothers etc, is now being used as a weapon against women. Such is the situation that it’s not just about giving women separate police stations to report such crimes in, it’s about dismantling the entire jirga culture, along with the notion of society’s honour being linked to their women. It’s about educating the new generation with a fresh perspective, so that no notion of taking revenge by punishing innocent women remains.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Jun 15, 2011 - 11:29PM

    For all its sins, in America an immigrant chamber maid accused the head of the IMF of rape and he was jailed. In some warped sense of honour stripping a women naked, or forcing a women to bear the costs of their male relatives transgressions is abhorrent. There should be zero tolerance of such bevhaiour. Lets pray someone in the parliment doesnt stand up and say, “its our culture”.Recommend

  • Rizwan Nasar
    Jun 16, 2011 - 12:19AM

    No wonder Pakistan is rated the third most dangerous country for women! Every Pakistani man should be ashamed of this distinction! Recommend

  • Dr Khan
    Jun 16, 2011 - 1:28AM

    The wrong-doers of Mukhtaran Mai case have already been “honorably” acquitted by the more “honorable” court.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jun 16, 2011 - 3:13AM

    So much for the “land of the pure”. I wonder what religious/cultural justification the jirga used to justify this punishment? I wonder what the jirga would think if their wife’s/daughters/mothers were similarly punished for the poor judgment of the jirga? I also wonder what the govt of Pakistan was doing when all this was happening?Recommend

  • Farrukh
    Jun 16, 2011 - 10:08AM

    What the hell is going on in Pakistan.This would never end until Illiterate people are in charge just like the higher authorities who makes laws and rules.All are corrupt!!!!! They all lie on the name of politics everyone is eating each other. May ALLAH forgive us.No one deserve to be the leader they should be thrown out from Pakistan.Recommend

  • TrueNorth
    Jun 16, 2011 - 10:34AM

    Over the years in a very systematic way Pakistani society has been made insensitive to the traumas, sufferings and torture of the fellow citizens. An eco-system of “might is right” has emerged, and now even the most revered symbols of society are being targeted. I hope this ends one way or the other. Recommend

  • Fouzia
    Jun 16, 2011 - 10:51AM

    @tightdhoti
    Well said! Its likely for Mr Silly to give a statement like, ‘that woman had loose character and illicit relationships with the local men’. For God Sake all those men who were watching such an immoral treatment of a woman, a mum must be condemned too. Unless men in the society stand for the women and guard them, Pakistan will remain the top dangerous country for women.Recommend

  • Samina gul
    Jun 16, 2011 - 11:58AM

    “President of immortals has ended his Support with Tess”one of the phrase wriiten by an english writer.The case with Shenaz bibi is off the same demanding justice from all the world.where are the claimers,is their justice in this country.Female are always used as tool by the oppsite sex.this is our culture? indigenous crimes,chaotic situations prevailing in our soceity.
    I pleads for justice from all those who claims to be the law enforcement institutions,human Rights protection givers & civil soceities to come up against this abnoxious,unbearable crime.Recommend

  • Asim
    Jun 16, 2011 - 1:15PM

    i think all of this used to happen before also, but due to increase media presence all these hidden crimes in our society are being brought into the main stream news by the media.Recommend

  • sumeet
    Jun 16, 2011 - 1:44PM

    you have local jirga in pakistan,we have khap panchayats on other side of the border.otherwise everything is same.Recommend

  • Jun 16, 2011 - 1:47PM

    The Local mediamen utterly failed to report this issue. It was picked by BBC first and then newspapers. Where was the local mediamen? Where their journalism profession was? And where was their courage. Shame over them for ever.Recommend

  • Nomaan
    Jun 16, 2011 - 4:31PM

    Unfortunately, we have turned into a bunch of savagesRecommend

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