A*, newly married at the time of her cold-blooded honour killing in July this year, was subjected to a grisly death. Twenty-one Kalashnikov bullets were drilled through her body, including her head, while seven others hit the wall in her home in Jamshoro, which boasts of its status as an educated city.
The viciousness of the incident is evident, yet the alleged culprits, the girl's father, an uncle and other relatives, have evaded arrest despite being nominated in the FIR.
But A* is not the only victim being denied justice. The Women's Action Forum (WAF) organised a rally on Sunday to garner support for these women. They shared several similar cases at a press conference at Cafe Khanabadosh on Friday.
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"The civil society raises its voice to protect the dying peacocks of Tharparkar, the hunting of houbara bustard and Indus river's blind dolphins, but the killings of women in the name of honour and their rape don't evoke such a response," lamented Sindhu at the rally, in which hundreds of people took part.
According to the WAF's data, 1,447 cases of violence against women were registered in the last 12 months. These included 212 killings, 117 abductions and 58 gang rapes.
The declaration read out at the rally demanded the setting up of special courts for the trial of cases pertaining to the victimisation of women. They also called for incriminating the elected representatives, feudal lords and others who convene jirgas and the enforcing of the ban on jirgas as well.
"We want the Sindhi society to take up this cause [of preventing crimes against women] as determinedly as they struggled for issues such as the Kalabagh dam, Sindh's control over its natural resources and conspiracies against Sindh's division," said Dr Arfana Mallah, a Sindh University teacher who heads the WAF.
A*'s aunt, Shabana Babbur, claimed the actual cause of her killing was property. "She was married to our brother's son, Ali Hassan Babbur. But my brothers, Ghulam Mustafa Babbur [A*'s father who is also a police sub-inspector] and Ali Nawaz Babbur, accused her of being a kari [having an extra-marital affair] and killed her," she explained.
The initial police case was registered against A*'s husband, Ali Hassan, and father-in-law, Ali Sher Babbur, but that FIR was later quashed and a new one was registered nominating her father, uncle and others. Shabana, a mother of four, three of whom suffer from a mental disability, says her husband was also killed by her brothers five years ago. Since then she has been staying at Madadgar Helpline's shelter home in Karachi.
Read: My sister was a victim of honour killing and I demand justice!
In November 2013, a young woman, K*, was allegedly shot dead while resisting rape by a landlord in the Bachao Bund area near Umerkot. The incident's FIR was registered against Khadim Bux Shar, according to her mother, Dargah Kolhi. But the peasant Kolhi family was pressured to withdraw the case and they finally relented, allowing the arrested accused to be freed from prison after being incarcerated for over six months. "Our men were being threatened. We were under pressure from many landlords to settle the matter by accepting compensation," said the woeful Durgah.
Amar Sindhu, owner of Cafe Khanabadosh and convener of the WAF, demanded that cases of rape and killing should either be tried by the ATC or by a separate court. "The delays in court processes and weaknesses in the prosecution compound the victim's miseries," he said.
There were other victims' families at the event. They all appeared to have one thing in common; a victimised young girl or a woman searching for justice.
*Names changed to protect identity
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2015.
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