Jirga decision: Authorities move to save ‘condemned’ Kohistani women

Published: May 29, 2012

Local police chief said that a police party, headed by a deputy superintendent police, has been sent to Seertaiy village to recover the girls who, The Express Tribune reported, were locked in a room and were being starved.

KOHISTAN: In a bid to preempt the execution of six people condemned to death for “disrespecting gender segregation customs” in a remote village of Kohistan district, administration officials ordered the detention of eight tribesmen on Monday.

A jirga had declared four women and two men Ghul (fornicators) and condemned them to death after they were allegedly caught on videotape singing and dancing together at a wedding party in Bando Baidar village of Peech Bela union council.

“We have detained eight people (from the women’s tribe). And they have given us a written guarantee that the women would not be harmed,” Hazara Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai told The Express Tribune.

Umerzai added that he had seen the video showing the women and the men dancing and singing together.

“Judging by the local tribal culture, it is objectionable,” he said but added that he would not condone if a tribal jirga has condemned them to death as was reported by The Express Tribune on Sunday.

“The women have violated their tribal norms by dancing and singing with Na-mehrams (those who one can marry in Islam). But the law does not allow nobody to condemn them to death,” he added.

The commissioner claimed that the women were safe at the homes of their parents in Seertaiy village. He also confirmed that the condemned men have fled their village.

The local police chief said that a police party, headed by a deputy superintendent police, has been sent to Seertaiy village to recover the girls who, The Express Tribune reported, were locked in a room and were being starved.

Abdul Majeed Afridi, the district police officer, also endorsed Umerzai’s claimed that “the women are safe in their parents’ homes”.

Interestingly, DPO Afridi went back on his earlier statement and said that it was a local cleric, not a jirga, who condemned the six to death. On Sunday, he confirmed to The Express Tribune that a jirga had condemned them to death.

Afridi appears to have good knowledge of local tribal customs. “If a woman is found talking to a Na-mehram, she is ‘punished’ while the man is ‘wounded’ for his crime,” he said. However, he would not say how the woman is ‘punished’ and the man ‘wounded’.

Rights campaigners have condemned the jirga’s decision. In their statements, Sahara Development Foundation, Human Development Organisation, Rural Development Project, Integrated Human Rights Network, Aurat Foundation and Aurat Association called upon the government to ensure that the six people are not harmed.

They also demanded that the administration shift the women to Darul Aman for their security. They called for a ban on the jirga system which, they believe, is the root cause of discrimination against women in society.

(Read: The farce of tribal jirgas)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2012.

Reader Comments (29)

  • Tariq Ahmad
    May 29, 2012 - 6:36AM

    Amazing, and the people of Pakistan want to support these junglis

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  • Mirza
    May 29, 2012 - 6:39AM

    Is this Pakistani territory or not? If not then let the NATO clean it out of the global terrorists who have infested this area for decades. If it is Pakistan then let the laws of the land prevail and not the Stone Age laws of jungle. Or it is Pakistani Guantanamo Bay where some like Afridi could be sent for “special” treatment and laws. This is barbaric and the women should be taken out of their village to the safety of a big city far away.

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  • Disco
    May 29, 2012 - 6:43AM

    Do it please, and do it fast, save these women, for sanity’s sake.

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  • Max
    May 29, 2012 - 6:57AM

    Living in the twenty-first century by the principles, values, and mores of the medieval Rub-al-Khali (empty land) of Arabia. What should one make of it?

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  • Babloo
    May 29, 2012 - 6:59AM

    Barbarism in the name of tribal culture.

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  • May 29, 2012 - 7:33AM

    Yesterday the reported painted it as some tribal thing. But, its not.

    “The women have violated their tribal norms by dancing and singing with Na-mehrams (those who one can marry in Islam).”

    The above quote amply disproves that.

    People will believe what they want to believe. As simple as that.

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  • Rajendra Rana
    May 29, 2012 - 7:46AM

    Religion of peace and true religion Islam at its best.

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  • Rajendra Rana
    May 29, 2012 - 7:47AM

    This is how religion of peace work

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  • Arindom
    May 29, 2012 - 8:46AM

    Can some throw any light on this – India also has ‘Tribal’ communities, especially in North East – Assam, Arunachal, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland and Mizoram. These too are remote, cut off from ‘mainland India’, mountaineous and industrially backwards. But in each of these regions, women are ahead of men. Some of these societies are even ‘Matriarchical’ – i.e. women inherits property, women are bread earners and men follow women to their homes after marriage! If not overtly matriarchical, these Indian tribal societies are quite advanced – many times more ‘liberal’ than ‘mainstream Indians’ from the plains.
    Why this dichotomy?

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  • May 29, 2012 - 9:03AM

    These people (Jirga) still lives into Stone Age “BUS KARDO”

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  • Random
    May 29, 2012 - 9:07AM

    Unfortunately there is no political will to do away with this Jirga system. More than 60 yrs and its unfortunate that we still allow parallel system of justice to exist in the country.

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  • Adnan Waqar
    May 29, 2012 - 9:23AM

    The jirga should be put to death for imposing a decision which is against the Quran. They are the ones guilty of “Shirk”

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  • Awais
    May 29, 2012 - 9:27AM

    Kohistan has alot of old tribes in remote areas, that are nowhere close to modernisation which can be seen in various discovery channel documentaries etc. These people have their own sub-culture and are quite distinct from the rest of the country. That said, i’m glad the authorities have stepped in to resolve thsi issue

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  • Gilgit- Baltistan
    May 29, 2012 - 9:31AM

    shameful act by the Jirga in the name of honour and if we research about these Jirga peoples many of them will find in extremely abusive activities in there villages. shame for administration also to not implement the Rid of Government.

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  • Raj - USA
    May 29, 2012 - 9:45AM

    To be honest, I have not heard of such instances even during Zia’s period. Were these not getting reported then or has Pakistan drifted to darker ages since then ?

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  • Pakistani
    May 29, 2012 - 9:46AM

    This is Talbanization, and majority among us approve this! HuH

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  • RizwanTKhan
    May 29, 2012 - 10:07AM

    This barbaric system should be uprooted. Allah will penalize the whole nation for the wrong doings of such devils.

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  • Tariq
    May 29, 2012 - 10:17AM

    To the idiots blaming this on religion, try to wrap ur tiny brains around the fact that this is tribal culture, and religion has nothing to do with it. Religion has specific punishments for adultery, and none for dancing with na-mehrams etc! Blame it on uneducated tribal customs that have been in vogue for centuries.

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  • citizen
    May 29, 2012 - 10:39AM

    Tribal people are such barbarian in their customs.its high time they are forced to their acceptable limits . They sholud not hold law in their hands.

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  • May 29, 2012 - 10:42AM

    Its not just enough to detained 8 people from Jirga is not sufficient. Any time they can harm those women. They need to be indicted for criminal offence. The case of harbea corpus must be registered against them and the authorities also make sure those women are recovered and placed at safer location with complete security. The media is urged not just to report, but follow up the case with civil society as well as the local administration there. Remember, if the news is dead in media, then the condemned people are dead. Because this will give the jirga people time and opportunity to execute them. So please just like print media, the electronic media is also urged to blow up the matter till the authorities at federal capital are moved and come forward to save these precious lives.
    Express tribune, well done, you always report women’s specific issues in time and this has lead to saving many precious lives in the past as well. Please keep up the good work.

    Bravo to Mr. Farman Ali and his team here at Islamabad.

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  • Freedom Seeker
    May 29, 2012 - 10:42AM

    These people must be from some poor family there. Otherwise this Jirga system always protect the stronger and punish the poor. The maliks over there keep “Boys” to serve them and nobody ask them anything. The corruption limits are more then we can think. Pashtoo movies used to be worse in Pakistan.
    All this is a drama to punish the rivals.

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  • May 29, 2012 - 11:14AM

    I personaly know about this areas, these are mountanious areas and no rules and regulations are followed there, one will do what he want, there is no proper policing in the kohistan area, most of the kohistani people shifted to swat and srounded areas to for their safty, but they sometimes also do the same as like kohistan here in swat. Three years back in front of my eyes people killed a migrated kohistan in bahrain swat and scapt out easily..

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  • kaffir
    May 29, 2012 - 11:25AM

    @Tariq: You are wrong, religion has everything to do with this.

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  • Basit
    May 29, 2012 - 11:52AM

    @Mirza:
    Are you that deliberately naive to think that NATO will solve problems of tribal culture or religious fundamentalism?

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  • sars
    May 29, 2012 - 1:04PM

    as in all punishments of this kind why do the men get to “escape” and why are the women punished for a combined “mistake”.

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  • DevilHunterX
    May 29, 2012 - 2:01PM

    @kaffir:
    Do go on

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  • MAD
    May 29, 2012 - 4:11PM

    I think the tribal areas need to be detribalized now. Its become a joke now.

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  • Raja Arsalan Khan
    May 29, 2012 - 6:33PM

    Express Tribune must be congratulated on carrying the story on front page. Barbarian culture sanctioned by religion is the worst form of slavery.

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  • May 31, 2012 - 10:59AM

    What a tragedy that a parallel judicial systems exists & function in Pakistan !. Why this Jirga system is not declared illegal and punishable ? People of Pakistan can put pressure on government for abolition of Jirga judicial system. Media needs to play a bigger role on awareness.

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