Human rights outrage

The murder of couples declared “karo” and “kari” constitutes one of the worst human rights offences.

Editorial June 16, 2013
The murder of couples declared “karo” and “kari” constitutes one of the worst human rights offences. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

The brutal murder of a couple in Sukkur after they were declared “karo” and “kari” by their families highlights the deplorable human rights situation in Pakistan. According to a news report in The Express Tribune, four armed men gunned down a man and his wife, while they were sleeping in their house on the morning of June 13. The two had registered their marriage in a Sukkur court against the wishes of their families. No FIR was filed and the police handed over the body of the deceased to their families, who were most likely involved in the killings.

The murder of couples declared “karo” and “kari” constitutes one of the worst human rights offences and is shockingly common in Pakistan. Couples who contract a “free will” marriage are often hunted down by their families and killed, or forced to flee the country. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Annual Report, at least 943 women were killed in the name of honour in 2011. Social acceptability for this crime is distressingly high and an Aurat Foundation study shows that most cases highlighted in the media are never actually reported to the police. The crime is often a cover for settling property disputes and it is mainly the victim’s family members who carry it out.

Those who call for the murder of these couples and declare them karo and kari — in this particular case, clans in the Brohi tribe — should be brought to book and held responsible for the killings. Though the 2004 amendment to the PPC and CrPC defines karo kari as murder, it falls short of giving protection to victims and ensuring punishments to the perpetrators. Karo kari needs to be made non-compoundable so that out-of-court settlements are no longer possible and the social acceptability of the crime is reduced. At the same time, it is critical to sensitise and train the police. Most importantly, eradicating illiteracy should be a main concern since the crime is linked to low literacy levels.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2013.

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Feroz | 7 years ago | Reply

This editorial is an exercise in confusion, intentional or otherwise. The main issue is of murder, whether it is karo kari or hara kiri, is irrelevant. In any murder case irrespective whether there are any complaints filed or not, FIR has to be registered and Autopsy performed. The Police has the job of solving the murder irrespective of the opinions of society or family members. If they do not want to solve the murder the fault lies with them and the Law and Order machinery, not the social norms of society. The Police has to be taken to task if they do not solve the murder. An investigation should also be carried out to ascertain if the murdered couple approached the Police to lodge a complaint but were rebuffed. If the latter is the case Police is party to the murder and should also be prosecuted.

Billoo Bhaya | 7 years ago | Reply

This is happening in PPP-MQM run territory. The Federation can't interfere in local events that are part of the local culture and folklore. Karo-Kari has been going on for a millennium here and democracy's revenge has come "Sindh Khappay" style.

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