KARACHI: The first step in fighting honour crimes is to accept their existence in the society and understand the nature of the crime.
“We need to accept that such crimes exist and that they are more prevalent in certain cultures than others,” said Manisha Gupte, one of the co-editors of the book “Honour and Women’s Rights: South Asian Perspectives” at its launch at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.
“Honour exists in every society but we need to struggle against the structures of dominance, such as caste and sex, which instigate honour killings.”
The book has been co-edited by Gupte, Ramesh Awasthi and Shraddha Chickerur. It comprises 15 papers by authors from South Asian countries, including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, who are either settled in their respective countries or living abroad.
“The most prevalent form of violence against women among South Asian people is domestic violence and the fear of extended families,” said Gupte, who is also the founder of MASUM, an organisation working for the rural women in India since 1987. “Domestic violence and honour killings are interlinked.”
From Pakistan, Akmal Wasim, Faiza Haswary, Nazish Brohi, Afiya Zia and Saima Husain contributed their papers to the book, which was completed over a period of three years.
Discussing the different forms of honour crimes, Gupte said domestic violence also takes place in western cultures.
She clarified that the book has no answers but only offers insight into such crimes.
The National Commission on the Status of Women chairperson, Anis Haroon, said that illiteracy and extremism are the main obstacles which are stalling women’s development in the region.
One of the authors, Afiya Zia, who co-authored a paper with researcher Nazish Brohi on “Agentive defiance to honour codes in Pakistan”, called for focus on the empirical studies conducted by organisations. She crticised them as being flawed, saying that they are entirely based on media reports. “These crimes are not limited to only villages but exist in urban cities as well.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.