Brief history of Pakistan 3
1. History of Women´s Rights Movements 4
1.1. Violation of women´s rights 7
2. “A girl in the river – The Price of Forgiveness” 8
2.1. The status of Women in Pakistan 10
2.2. Abuse of Women´s Rights in Pakistan 12
2.3. Honour culture and honour values in Pakistan 13
2.4. Honour crimes in Pakistan 13
2.5. “Daughters of shame” 15
2.6. Preventing honour crimes 16
2.7. Feminism movement in Pakistan 18
3. Pakistan today 20
Honour crimes are abuse of human rights, the right of a life. To be indifferent to honour killing is the same like to be indifferent to the basic human rights of any woman as well as a man.
To understand why honour killings happen in Pakistan we first need to understand the cultural significance of honour in this country. Honour is a measure for social prestige and it is something that can be lost. And as it´s already written, women are the ones who are responsible for the family honour and it is very important that woman acts in ways which are considered as moral, otherwise she will be brutally punished.
Brief history of Pakistan
The name „Pakistan” was used in 1933 for the first time in a political pamphlet called Now or Never. A student named Rahmat Ali came up with the name, which is the combination of many regions that make up Pakistan. P is for Punjab, “A” is for Afghania, “K” is for Kashmir, “S” is for Sindh and “TAN” is for Balochistan. Pakistan has a rich history. The land was first part of the Indus Valley civilisation, this civilization flourished until 1500 BCE. Later was invaded by numerous empires and civilization, mostly from the west. These includes Persians, Greeks, Arabs and Turks. In the 18th century the British came to the area of Pakistan. In 1947 British split up India into three parts: India, Pakistan and East Pakistan (Bangladesh).
Pakistan was the first region of South Asia to be fully impacted by Islam and has developed distinct Islamic identity, historically different from areas further east, but there are also members of several minority religions who live there, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists.
Pakistan is geographically attached to West, Central Asia and South. Country has the second largest salt mine in the world, fifth largest gold mine, seventh largest copper mine, fifth largest coal reserves, seventh largest wheat and rice production capacity and is eight in the rankings of fresh water availability with 2.053 cubic meters of water per person in 1995. Therefore Pakistan is of of the riches countries in the world, but the nation is still poor.
According to Pakistani´s official report, 40% of Pakistanis population lives in poverty and the poverty is increasing day by day. A majority of the rural population (54,6%) lives in acute poverty while this ratio is 9,4% in urban areas. The more alarming indicator is the intensity of poverty, as each poor person lacks access to half of the indicators selected for measuring poverty. The MPI findings show 60.6% of Pakistan’s population does not have access to cooking fuel, 48.5% do not complete schooling, almost four out of every 10 people (39%) do not have any assets and over 38% of the population lives in a one-room shelter and about one-third population does not have access to health facilities.
The biggest problem of Pakistan is poverty, which is the cause of crime and social disorder. Another problem is literacy, which is very low. It means that most of the people are not educated and they are not able to adopt technology for their business needs. Under such low conditions of business education, business does not meet international standards and the result is poor economic condition.
Another problem is health. Pakistan has the third highest rate in the world when it comes to infant mortality. More than 60 Million people are living below the poverty line in Pakistan and those people cannot meet their basic needs. Diseases are very common because they lack the resources to maintain a healthy living environment. Hygiene conditions are very low. In general, people who are living in poverty cannot afford medicines to treat their illnesses.
On the list of problems are Corruption and Elitism in the Government, lack of democratic ideals, religious and secular conflict.
Considering that the situation in Pakistan is getting worse and the people are getting poorer, the government should take effective steps in order to reduce poverty.
1. History of Women´s Rights Movements
“If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves?” – Mary Astell
Women´s rights movements are concerned with making the political, social and economic status of women equal to that of men and with establishing legislative safeguards against discrimination on the basis of gender. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women. This woman´s right movements are known also as feminism.
Even if women could not speak in history, silenced by the rumor and anger of male history and the male perception of history, their real social position has manifested itself in the stories that have been depicted in ancient times: Elektra, Antigone, Medea, Iphigenia, Helena are the most famous antique representations of the tragic destiny of women in the male world.
Mary Wollstonecraft has 1792 published her famous “Vindication of the Rights of Women”, a book that, as she is considered today, has begun a feminist discourse. It should be however kept in mind that the books that were most influenced the women´s rights movements were written by the men: John Locke in 17th century, or in the 19th century John Stuart Mill and Friedrich Engels.
John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Their political theories and ideologies had an important influence on the shaping European or even western governmental systems and society. Their contributions start on a similar basis – state of nature. The base seems similar, but their individual progressions are different.
Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan represents the absolute authoritarian monarch, Locke integrates the common plebes into his liberalist theory of a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy and the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau are directed towards an “extreme democracy”. According to Locke, the term “natural law” refers to normative laws which guide the society and which are universal. Since the “law of nature” is not specific in regards to values and benefits, it applies to all persons at all times and in all places. Locke believed that women were rational and that they have a high level of intellectual capacity to justify an all but identical educational programmes for both sexes.
And as it is well-known, the feminist discourse at the beginning of the twentieth century, especially in the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany, got the character of a social revolution. The Suffragettes (Women seeking the right to vote through organized protest) was prepared to violently pursue their goals: the right to vote, the right to education, and the change of social norms in the sphere of sexuality, in which men have always been privileged. In fact, it was the rebellion of middle class women who found their best allies in contemporary socialist parties.
By the time of the First World War, radical changes took place, when millions of men went to the fronts of Europe and when women left home, they took not only material care for the family, but also male workplaces at factories and offices. In this way, a cataclysm in male history has allowed emancipation of a woman. Immediately after the war in 1918, British women were given the rights to vote, which in some way was a recognition of their heroic posture during the war. In Germany, women were given the rights to vote in 1919, and in the United States in 1920, the French woman were waiting for it until the end of World War II.
Soon, however, it turned out that the right of vote, for which the suffragettes were ready to give life, did not significantly change the social position of the woman.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) wrote a very specific and very decisive point about it, in her book “A Room of One’s Own, 1929.
The significance of Virginia Woolf for the development of feminist consciousness lies primarily in the fact that it has questioned the traditionally humanistic belief that man is a stable, invariable subject. According to her, even the idea of gender is not firm and immutable, but ideologically structured and socially controlled. She pointed on the need for women to poses intellectual freedom and financial independence.
In 1949, another classical feminist work, Le Deux Sex Sexe, appeared in Paris, Simone De Beauvoir (1908-1986), which launched a new post-war wave of feminism in the West. In this book, perhaps the greatest French intellectual in the twentieth century she asked the question “What is a woman?” And in the first sentence she answered with the famous paradox: “One is not born, but rather becomes a woman.” It was, in fact, a response to the famous Freud’s claim that the question is half the biological question, which is why the fate of women is biologically predetermined. Even though Freud’s teaching was quite ambivalent in many other matters, his fate of biology as a destiny of the men’s world has quietly quieted his conscience and removed the issue of women’s equality, which had been fought by Suffragettes at the beginning of the twentieth century. After the Second World War Simone de Beauvoir again disturbed the public in the West, posting this question in a new way. Simone de Beauvoir has revealed to them the possibility of a different vision of themselves, a different view of life and a different, more active participation in society. (Unlike Virginia Woolf, who believed that a woman can only feel good outside of a society she does not belong to anyway, Simone de Beauvoir has opted for social engagement, first as a socialist and anti-imperialist, then as a radical feminist).
The Women’s Liberation Movement, which was social rather than political and was manifested in literature and demonstrations by radical feminists, may have raised the awareness of the nation to the prevalence of discriminatory beliefs and attitudes. More significantly, feminist political organizations arose that developed into a full feminist movement by the 1970s. These included the National Organization for Women (NOW), formed in 1966 under the leadership of Betty Friedan; the National Women’s Political Caucus (1971), composed of such nationally known feminists as Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Gloria Steinem; the Equal Rights Amendment Ratification Council (1973); and the Coalition of Labour Union Women (1973).
Speaking of the history of women´s rights movements we must mention Kate Millett too. She divided the feminist development into three phases. In the first phase, from 1830 to 1930, the women’s movement first and foremost revealed some of the most brutal forms of subordinating women to patriarchy, forcing society to approach radical changes in legislation, particularly in the area of human rights: during this period, women were entitled to education and employment, as well as voting rights. In the second phase, between 1930 and 1960, feminism had to retreat from the fierce reaction of the patriarchal ideologists, , among which, in Millett’s view, Sigmund Freud and macho writers like D. H. Lawrence, Henri Miller, and Norman Mailer played the decisive “counterrevolutionary role”. In the third phase, which began, at the end of the sixties, “sexual revolution” was finally carried out, suggesting the total transformation of the Western society. By Kate Millett´s belief, changed social consciousness will necessarily free the woman and end the end of sexual inhibition, taboos and dual social standards in the sphere of sexuality, marriage and family.
During the 1970s, the “women’s movement” began to gain momentum, although at the time it seemed that in the West most of women’s rights had already been derived: the equality of women and men was legally recognized, the doors of educational institutions were wide opened for woman, the law prohibited discrimination in employment, in most western European countries liberalization of the divorce and legalized abortion has been liberalized. However, with these nominally realized rights the problems of the women were not solved. Moreover, precisely during the 1970s, many books and studies appeared in which feminists sought to explore and explain how the subordination of women is institutionalized, how these institutions function and how the situation can prevail.
Since the 1980s the women’s movement has focused on diverse issues. According to Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia these issues were preserving the reproductive rights, that is, preserving a woman’s right of choice to have an abortion against the fervent pro-life movement; sexual harassment; and the “glass ceiling” that impedes women in corporate advancement.
From the second half of the 20th century more and more women are entering politics and leading positions in countries. The first Prime Minister in history is Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka since 1960. Indira Ghandi 1966.g. became prime minister of India, and in 1979 Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, and Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain. The first president of the state in history is Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the president of Iceland since 1980. Today, women are headed by a dozen countries in the world as president, but the number of women in state parliaments is also increasing.
UN since its inception in 1945 brings documents against discrimination against women, but these documents did not significantly change the position of women. Rights of women continue to be violated in all parts of the world because sanctions are not envisaged by UN laws.
Women now make the 1/3 of the labour force in the world, receiving only 10% of the world’s total income and owning 1% of the world’s property. What does it mean to be a woman in the 21st century? It depends on where you were born and where you live. In the West, women were in the second half of the 20th century have achieved the greatest progress over the past several thousand years, but men still have a leading role in law, politics, business and industry. Women’s rights have not yet reached equality with human rights, that is, with the rights men adopt and apply to themselves. Women are paid for a job they perform in relation to men, they are often victims of abuse, very difficult to get to more important jobs. Women are better paid only in modelling and prostitution.
In the East, the position of women is far worse than in the West. Women are denied education, health care and voting rights, although they have the right to vote according to laws, except in a few other countries of the world (Qatar, Oman, UAE, Brunei). In recent years, women in Islamic countries have entered parliaments, but their tradition is still very strong, and hundreds of punishments for misdemeanours, such as stoning and murder of honour women, continue to apply. Although the various declarations of women’s rights have become an indivisible part of human rights, the reality is different. In order to make progress in the area of women’s rights, women should first be educated to get to know the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and international law.
1.1. Violation of women´s rights
The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
According to the WHO, around one-third of women in the world are victims of abuse of their male partners or family members, as much as 40 percent of victims of domestic violence. The prevalence estimates of intimate partner violence range from 23.2% in high-income countries and 24.6% in the WHO Western Pacific region to 37% in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region, and 37.7% in the WHO South-East Asia region. Globally as many as 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners. In addition to intimate partner violence, globally 7% of women report having been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner, although data for non-partner sexual violence are more limited. Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly perpetrated by men against women.
The problem is that in many countries of the world, women are considered second-class citizens, resulting in the rationalization of discrimination. The permissiveness of violence and the non-punishment of perpetrators is a typical and widespread example of discrimination against women, therefore abusing women is recognized as a violation of human rights.
In India, for example, violence reports about 37 percent of married women. In Zambia – over 50 percent, in Uganda too. There is a very high number of women in Peru, in Nicaragua – a third of women. In developing countries, therefore, every third victim is a partner, that is, a supranational violence.
Violence in a family is a common phenomenon in industrialized countries , although the rate is lower. In Britain, for example, according to reports from their government, two women per week die from family violence, which makes up almost a quarter of all crimes committed.
Sometimes, the partner applies the same brutality as is applied in the war and in armed conflicts, women and children are those who usually get hit first and that in large numbers, like, for example, in Darfur, Sudan, where millions of people, due to armed attacks, have had to leave their homes.
Women make about half of the world’s refugees. While avoiding physical attacks in refugee camps, they continue to bear the burden of caring for their families. For many women in such situations, violence is a way of life.
And before these conflicts begin, women and girls are victims of various types of violence, from forced marriage to sexual exploitation. A raped woman threatens not only the consequences for her health, but also the stigma of shame. As a result of rape, some are pregnant. We are witnessing a number of cases where these children are not accepted by the community.
Numerous studies have shown that violence against women in the country cost millions of dollars in social services programs, health care and lost economic productivity. Violence against women can amount to around 2% of the global gross domestic product. Violence against women and girls brings huge economic costs to any society. The negative impact on women´s participation in education, employment and civic life undermines poverty reduction. It results in lost employment and productivity and it drains resources from social services, the justice system, health-care agencies and employers.
We cannot talk about the security of the country when half of its population is insecure and unstable. That’s why this problem should be solved urgently because in the situation we are in which hundreds of thousands of women and girls are exposed to abuse every day. We will not achieve peace until we fully understand what impact it has on the state of the country, especially on the state on developing countries.
2. “A girl in the river – The Price of Forgiveness”
This is the story about love and sacrifice. A story about a sad destiny, a life of a woman in Pakistan. This is a story about Saba.
It’s about an 18-year-old girl who survived the impossible. Her family tried to kill her because she insulted a family honour. Saba was supposed to get married for the young man she loved and nothing stood on their way, either from him or her side, except that her uncle opposed this marriage, because the family of the groom was poor. The young ones therefore decided to get marry secretly in the city hall. His family accepted their marriage. Her father and her uncle went to his place and begged to let the bride to go home, so that her family can do it properly and that the family would not suffer the shame. However, instead of taking Saba home, they took her to the forest by the river, beat her for hours, then fired at her face, strutted in a sack, bound and thrown into the river.
She is today one of perhaps a thousand who survived. This girl proved to be special in that she drove her father and uncle to court so that someone else, if nothing else, at least twice thinks about it before deciding to do something like that. But Saba came across another obstacle, this time the judicial, which she failed to overcome. The family and the environment were persuading Saba to forgive her father and uncle. Namely, in Pakistan, there is a law that allows someone to be freed of criminal prosecution if damaged party forgives the perpetrator directly. In the end, Saba did so.
Her case, however, is not a defeat. The Pakistani government has decided to deal with this serious problem.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy reveals in this top-of-the-line, risky journalistic research the complex and violent forces that Pakistani women face, as well as the conflicting interpretations of Islam and how it relates to human rights and family honour.
However, the message that this movie sends is disturbing. A girl in the River culminated on a sad note. Saba was under the pressure by her family and community. On the end, both her father and uncle were released swiftly as per the country’s law, because she was pressurised to forgive them.
What is even more disconcerting is the pseudo pride of Saba’s father who refused to show any regret even after her daughter forgave him. He vowed to do even worse if any of his other daughters ever tried to follow in the footsteps of Saba in the future. He justified himself by saying, “These girls are my responsibility. I have to feed and protect them. They in return should not play with the pride of the family. That’s an unforgivable sin.”
Her father was sure that he did the right thing. He claimed that he is now highly respected because of his ‘daring act’ and every family in his village asks for his other daughters’ hand in marriage after the incident.
Ironically, Saba, like many other survivors of honour killing in Pakistan, was abandoned to live under constant threat; threat to her life, her new family and her unborn child. Though she survived the fatal attack, her lively spirit died its own death by the hands of the negligent judicial system and vicious social fabric. As she said, “I forgave my father and uncle for the sake of my family and community. But I will never forgive them wholeheartedly. I leave my justice to Allah. He will protect me and perish them for their sin.” Her message is loud and clear… “Stop acting like a god, be human.”
In Pakistan, more than 1 000 women per year, thought to have endangered the honour of their families, are cold-stoned or shot. More tragically, victims who survive these attacks are under the pressure of the elders in the community to forgive their attackers in order to bring order and peace among neighbours, and to release the perpetrators of guilt. Groups of the Human Rights Group in Pakistan are currently lobbying for new laws protecting women from the honour killing.
Unfortunately, the story about Saba is not a single story. There are many cases of violation of women´s and girl´s rights. There is also case of Fazeelat Bibi (20) from Pakistan city Lahore. The two brothers were found guilty of kidnapping 20 year-old girl, one of their cousins. They cut off her ears and nose because she refused to marry one of them. A Pakistani court has ordered that two men have their ears and noses cut off, as a punishment for doing the same to a Fazeelat Bibi ahe judge in Lahore sentenced them to life in prison.
Or a story about a six year-old girl, Zainab Ansari. The girl was abducted on the way to the school where the religion is held. Two days later, her body was discovered at the garbage dump. The child was raped several times and then strangled. Parents accuse the police of having done nothing after their daughter’s disappearance. The death of the small Zainab has led to astonishment and indignation in the country. On social networks for days, her death was the main topic. In the city of Kasur near the Indian border, violent protests have been launched against the Pakistani government, where some demonstrators were killed.
Only two months before Zainab´s killing, a girl named Kainat was also attacked and dumped in the trash in Kasur. She was the one who survived the violation, but family members say that she is disoriented, does not recognize them and cannot speak.
There is so many cases of honour killings and the violation of women´s and girl´s rights. The reasons for this violation are complicated. The main problem in Pakistan is the fact that no one has a feel of blame or responsibility. There is also the lack of education and the fact that there are often too much shame among the victims and the misconception of honour.
For example, authorities in Pakistan do not issue ID cards to women. Their education is prohibited, and market visits are permitted only with the escort of male relatives. Many women were shot on the streets for violating the norms of a very strict interpretation of Islam.
The sad fact is that Pakistan is not the only country where is dangerous to be a woman. There are also: Yemen, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and the USA is on the list too.
2.1. The status of Women in Pakistan
“Pakistan was made only for the powerful and for the men. It was not made for weak and poor women like me. What are we worth and what is our status here? Nothing at all …” – Basheeran Bibi – one of the victimes
Pakistan is patriarchal society, where cultural patterns do not let women to enjoy their legal and religious rights. The factor of the male dominance becomes a factor causing violence to the other gender.
In case of women Pakistan uses customs and cultural norms of the society, which are very apathetic to women. Women´s status in Pakistan is mostly based on the cultural traditions and values.
Women were thought to be subordinate to men. From the birth a woman is considered to be a burden and her assets are calculated in terms of her power of reproduction and as an object of sexual satisfaction. They are not recognised as individual persons, they are specifically thought and raised to be in the roles of the mothers, sisters and daughters.
The situation of women in Pakistan is extremely bad. They are most often considered as a property that the father delivers, and the husband repurchase. Women’s value is measured by her work and the number of male children born. There are some cases that women were poured with the acid. The husbands, as the owners of women, are allowed to stonewall, wound up, acidify, and even kill. Women often suffer from their fathers, husbands, and other family members.
Maliha Zia Lari writes in her book that there are restrictions placed on women´s mobility, their behaviour and their activities to ensure they do not bring shame to the family. This supposedly meant to provide protection and respectability to women, but in fact is a manipulative tool used for control. She also thinks that the concept of women as holding men´s honour is an extremely relevant element here. That is why women´s behaviour is monitored not just by the men in her family but by the whole society where she is judged for any behaviour thought to be ‘inappropriate’.
The biggest problem of the women in Pakistan is that they are not aware of their basic human and legal rights, especially in the rural areas of the country. Violation of women´s rights is a very common in Pakistan, so it can be possible that the fear is another factor that prevents women from asserting their rights.
In Pakistan, like in every other religious and patriarchal society, roles of the women and man are divided, woman should work in the house and the man is the breadwinner. Some women work but their payment is not considered as their own and is usually taken by the male member of the family. Their role in the society is not recognised and they don´t play any part in administration or decision-making. There are also restrictions on women working outside the house. All this affects the economic independence of women and it means that they are totally dependent on men.
If women were harassed, killed or raped in the streets, or at home, it was because women had provoked these attacks by their speech, action or just their very presence. From official campaigns and government-controlled television, it appeared that the only manner in which the rapid deterioration of society could be checked was by eradicating the presence of women altogether.
There were some efforts by the Government to protect women´s rights but in such society as a Pakistan, those efforts created erosion of women´s legal status and the laws that were meant to protect women were implemented in an extremely discriminatory and anti-women manner. All this had negative effect on society. Women felt insecure about their status and identities, it has also created the fear about the repercussions of their behaviour. The environment gave support to the conservative factions of society, so the males became the judge of women´s status in society. The atmosphere allowed for men to decide what is appropriate or inappropriate behaviour for women.
Weak status of the women in society can only result with the violation of rights. It means that women are not protected in no way and that gives the freedom to men, so that they can behave with women in any manner – harass them and physically harm them.
It is very difficult to be a woman in Pakistan, where society and culture works against women´s benefits. The sad fact is that the family is the one who commits the most murders. Honour killings committed by the relatives are the most common way of violation against women. As “The National” reports, in 2014 about 1000 women died in honour-related attacks and 869 in 2013. In 2015 Human Rights Commission of Pakistan database reported 987 cases of honour killings. And where are those cases that are not reported…
For centuries Pakistani women have been slaves to social and cultural restrictions, is it now the time to make some changes? What women can do in such society? Can violence against women be considered as a serious human rights violation at a global level? Are women generally observed as a human beings? Do women exist only to be owned by the men? Don´t women have self-worth, feelings and individuality?
2.2. Abuse of Women´s Rights in Pakistan
“Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace” – Kofi Annan
Pakistan belongs to a part of the world where woman´s status is disadvantaged by systematic brutalisation. The destiny of the women are controlled by men in every aspect of their lives and the patriarchal control over women includes institutionalisation of extremely restrictive codes of behaviour. Women are excluded from social and economic opportunities. Strong ideology linking family honour to female virtue allow men to control women. When a woman´s behaviour is seen to threaten the patriarchal order, it is her body that is punished with beatings, burnings, sexual abuse and even a murder in the name of honour.
Violence against women is in this country widely perceived as acceptable. Women are inferior and they cannot raise their voice against their fathers, brothers, husbands and other male relatives who control her. The most common form of violence against women is domestic. Such type of violence is rarely reported. According to a report, 70% – 90% of women are suffering from many forms of abuses. More than 5000 women are being killed per year due to the domestic violence and thousands of them have been injured. Physical violence is the most brutal form of mistreatment of women. There is also the psychological and emotional abuses of women, which also falls into the category of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is not the only type of gender based violence in Pakistan. There are also many other types: murder, acid throwing, forced marriages, rape, sexual harassment, abduction or kidnapping, custodial violence.
For now, Pakistani governments failed to protect the rights and real honour of women, because the number of female victims is arising. We can see in the newspapers, every day a new story with old theme. It seems that from day to day becomes worse and it seems like the government protects perpetrators of violence against women. The problem is probably in the lack of judicial redress and weak administration and legislative measures. That is why Saba´s father and uncle are freed from any punishment for the attempt of the murder. Unfortunately, they are not the only one who have committed a murder or some other type of violation and get away with it. The main question is what can be done in the society where gender based violation is so deeply rooted?
2.3. Honour culture and honour values in Pakistan
Honour refers to the highest moral principles and the absence of deceit or fraud. Honour denotes a fine sense of, and strict conformity to, what is considered morally right or due.
The word is associated with the ideas of respect, esteem and prestige. Honour is not a stable state, it can be lost or gained. When shame is brought upon the family, the family honour is lost. Honour is valued in a social context in other people´s eyes, and honour is often connected to men, and shame to women. This means that in patrilineal society the family´s honour is connected with the reputation, female virginity and chastity. This women´s chastity represents the capital for the family, because in this type of the society the women are the property of their fathers and later husbands, therefore is very important to protect the chastity of women. The family´s reputation and honour is valued according to the behaviour of women.
Women have high expectations and responsibility, and the way of how they live their lives is strongly controlled from their male family members.
United Nations defines honour related violence as “a harmful traditional practice”. According to Universal Human Rights, all people have equal rights and additional to that, no traditional, cultural or religious values may be used as a reason for discrimination, that The Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women clarifies.
As we can see in the media, honour killings are a global problem and the Pakistan is not the only country who has it.
Honour is strong connected with the culture of society. Culture includes thoughts, experiences and patterns of behaviour. The values are not open for discussion and those values are advocated by a majority of their members or in those who have a high status within the society. Culture helps in interpreting and understanding other people. A person´s cultural identity does not provide complete or reliable information about the individual. Knowing a person’s culture is important if we want to understand the factors that each culture has to deal with.
2.4. Honour crimes in Pakistan
As it is explained in the text above, the word honour is about respect and esteem. From such aspect we can say that the word “honour” has a gender-neutral meaning and it has no connection with the violence or killing. However, in the context of honour killing, the concept of this word gets a different meaning. In this context, a person´s honour is believed to be a sacred value, and in some societies like Pakistan, the loss of the honour is equal with the loss of life.
Research shows that honour crimes are not likened to any religion but it is more cultural practice. The term culture refers to historical derived and socially transmitted ideas and practices as well as artifacts and institutions that are simultaneously products of human action and producers of future action.
Pakistan is the third most dangerous place for women in the world, given that domestic violence, honour killings, as well as physical and psychological abuse are very present. About 90% of women in Pakistan are estimated to be victims of one of these forms of violence during life.
Honour killings are known as karo-kari. Karo-kari is the homicide of a member of the family or social group, due to the belief that the victim brought dishonour upon the family or the community. In this case, the death of the victim is seen as a restore of the honour and the reputation.
Perpetrator of the honour killing can be any male or female family member, not only the husbands of the victims. This act is usually carefully planned and executed with the help of a few family members. Human Rights Watch defines “honour killings” as an act of revenge committed by usually male family members against usually female family members. The latter are held to have brought dishonour upon the family by refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce or accused of committing adultery.
The man tries to keep the control over female behaviour and when he thinks that his control and his authority are week then he feels shame. To remove this feeling of shame he usually does what the culture and tradition requires, so when she bring shame by violating the honour norms and the whole family experiences shameful feelings so in that time the killings of women is considered an act of the purification for the family
According to HRCP – Human Rights Commission of Pakistan there is 17.628 number of honour crime victims from January 01, 2004 till May 15, 2018. Sexual violence 7.246, Women kidnappings – 7.430, Domestic violence against woman – 2.423… The number of victims is quite scary and these are only reported cases. Where are those that are not reported…
According to women’s rights advocates, “the concepts of women as property, and of honour, are so deeply rooted in the social, political and economic fabric of Pakistan that the government mostly ignores the regular occurrences of women being killed and maimed by their families.” Frequently, women killed in honour killings are recorded as having committed suicide or died in accidents.
There are two doctrines in Islamic law named Quisas and Diya . Quisas is an Islamic term that means “retaliation in kind” or “revenge”, “eye for an eye” or retributive justice. Diya is also an Islamic law, is the financial compensation paid to the victim or heirs of a victim in the cases of murder, bodily harm or property damage. It applies only when victim´s family want to compromise with the guilty party, otherwise qisas applies.
Some people suggests that these two Islamic laws encourage honour killings, especially against women, as well as allow that the murder go unpunished. For example, in 2016, Pakistan repealed the loophole which allowed the perpetrators of honour killings to avoid punishment by seeking forgiveness for the crime from another family member, and thus be legally pardoned. The same thing happened in Saba´s case. The price of forgiveness is too high. The question is – Is it worth it? Can Saba live in peace now, or not? Will they try again to kill her? I suppose that Saba lives in fear every day, expecting the revenge, like most of the women in Pakistan.
2.5. “Daughters of shame”
This is a story about Sandeela Kanwal , Zeenat Rafiq, Amber , Farzana Parveen , Zahida Parveen and many others sisters, wives and daughters.
Sandeela was murdered by her father in the name of family honour. She wanted to get out of an arranged marriage, but for her father that was an act that would bring the shame to his family. Sandeela´s father, Rashid said that killing his daughter was a right given to him by God and that God would protect him.
Zeenat was an 18 year-old girl who was burned to death by her own mother. She “brought the shame to the family” because she married a man she loved truly.
In Murree one 19 year-old school teacher was tortured and burned to death for refusing an arranged marriage proposal.
Amber, 16, was found dead in her car that had been set on fire. Her murder was ordered on the traditional assembly of elders because she helped her friend to marry of her own choice.
Farzana was beaten with bricks and sticks outside Lahore´s high court. She came to defend her husband in a case against him by her relatives. They accused her husband of abducting her, but she already gave a testimony that she had married of her own free will. According to the police, they were attacked by 20 members of hers family and 10-15 of his family. During the attack she was struck with the brick three times and fatally wounded, he succeeded to escape. The reason for this attack is that she married against her family´s wishes. Her father, brother, cousin and former fiancé were all found guilty of murder.
Zahida a victim of her 35 year-old husband, who cut off her tongue, ears, nose and took out her eyes. He was convinced that she was having an affair. She couldn´t get her sight back, but with a few operations she got a new nose, tongue and ears. She was very brave when she accused her husband for an attempt of murder. Her case went to trial and her husband, Mehmood Iqbal was convicted. He got 14 years in jail and he needed to pay approximately 17.000 dollars for each body part.
All these stories are showing the powerlessness, discrimination and oppression of women. All these cases are a proof that Pakistani government must do something to prevent this barbaric behaviour. The last case gives some rays of hope that the Pakistan´s views on honour violence are changing. Zahida found strength to move forward. She shared her story so that other women know that there is a way for the justice to be satisfied.
Pawan Mishra, an award-winning author, producer and a leader in finance and technology industries said once: “It was much easier to explain the veil than to answer questions about the wounds.” It is very important for us to understand how hard is to fight against such violence and how hard is to go out and tell the world what is happening and how do we feel under the veil. People usually say that every scar that we have is a reminder not just that we got hurt, but that what we survived. Each scar holds a lifetime´s worth of lessons. All these girls and women who survived violation are wearing their scars like a warriors, those scars are a reminder that they are alive. Like Paulo Coelho said, scars speak their own stories and those stories are louder that the sword that caused them. We can only hope that those scars speak loud enough to repress the violence that cause them.
2.6. Preventing honour crimes
“There is no honour in honour killing. In fact there can be nothing more brutal than engaging in killing and calling it honour.” – Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhamed Navaz Sharif
Preventing honour crimes in Pakistan is really a challenge. The examples that are listed above are showing us that the social service and police were not so successful in protecting women. There is a few cases like Farzana, where the police didn´t want to do anything. There are also some lawmakers like Israr Ullah Zehri, who defends honour killings. He told Parliament: “These are centuries old traditions, and I will continue to defend them. Only those who indulge in immortal acts should be afraid.” There are also some cases with a good starts, like Saba´s case, where under the pressure of the society and traditional norms case ended up like nothing ever happened. Although the movie “A girl in the river” sent a clear message all over the world. The changes must be made.
The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2004 made honour crimes illegal, but the honour killings are not considered. Under the Qisas and Diyat the relatives of the victim can still pardon the perpetrator. Unfortunately, perpetrator can commit a crime and get away with it. This sends the wrong message to the society, it means like there is nothing wrong in honour killings or in some other ways of violation of women´s rights. How can the perpetrator know that that what he did was bad if he was not punished for it?
In 2006 The Women´s Protection Bill was adopted. The goal was to provide relief and protection to women against misuse and abuse of law and to prevent their exploitation. Constitution guarantees that there shall be no discrimination, social justice will be encouraged and the right of women shall be protected. However act underlines that crimes in the private sphere are out of reach. On the end, this Bill does little to prevent honour killings.
For example, there is Article 25 of Pakistan´s Constitution, where the equality before the law of all citizens is guaranteed. It states that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.
Pakistani government approved Anti-honour killing and Anti-rape Bills. The Bills were passed by the Senate in March 2015 and they call for the life sentence to “honour-killers” even if victim´s family forgives them. This is considered as a first step against honour crimes in Pakistan. These new lows must be implemented. The examples of punishment for the honour-killing must be made so that men begin to understand that the killing women is not honourable at all.
Despite the effort of the state and new laws, honour killings continue in Pakistan. Although, according to statistical database of Human Right Commission of Pakistan the number of reported cases is 2016 is higher than the number of cases in 2017. On the base of the statistics seems like the Pakistan made some progress in case of honour killings. Unreported cases should be considered too. Where are those untold stories? What if the progress of Pakistan is only an illusion? What if the tightening of the law made men become even more rigorous and more brutal? What if actually women live in a greater fear of reporting those crimes? We don´t live there with them and we don´t know, we can only assume…
In Pakistan culture is very important and a national culture forms the identity and mentality of the people. As we already know, “honour crimes” and violation of women´s rights are deeply rooted in Pakistan´s culture, so that means that mentality of the nation must be changed. According to some psychologists, the mentality of a nation can be changed over time, through shared experiences. For example, in modern societies, the young generation no longer identifies with the ways of the old generation, including their ideas of national identity and norms.
Number of honour killings can be reduced with the use of media. Media play today big role and affects the change of mentality. Media can also highlight the responsibilities of the government and it can also take an effect on the behaviour of the people.
According to some researches illiteracy, arranged marriage and economic dependency are major factors that lead to honour killing. Education on a national scale is important to raise awareness and to help society to recognize honour related violence abuse and help and support the victims. Raising awareness in society is always helpful. People will start to think about the issues and hopefully change their opinion about honour and other crimes. It would be probably efficient to educate men too, so that women gain their support. In that way the culture can be changed.
Women are totally dependent of men. They don´t possess anything and they don´t have right of ownership. They don´t even have right to earn money and in case that they work the man will take their salary. Weak financial position makes women even more vulnerable, this means that women should have equal career opportunities.
Freedom of the movement for women is also important in the fight against women´s violence, but these movements are restricted by socio-cultural factors. A woman´s economic empowerment can be limited by restrictions on freedom movement. All these limitations discourage women from going to school or owning business and deter women economic empowerment. Gender roles in Pakistan are defined, and women should be at home with the children and man is the one who goes to work and make money. All these barriers impacting freedom of the movement negatively.
In order to help the government in the fight against financial discrimination and against Karo kari, many NGOs are working. NGOs in Pakistan are facing internal and external challenges. Externally NGOs are facing challenges from government policies, institution, religious extremist and cultural tradition of society and internally from within the organization to work effectively. State should preserve human rights by implementing laws because people do not exist for the state but state for the people. Struggle must be continued to protect the human rights.
2.7. Feminism movement in Pakistan
Women had to fight hard for their rights all over the world, but the fight of Pakistani women is much heavier that the fight of women in Europe. Their struggle is more painful and much longer.
Pakistan is patriarchal society and male role is getting the privilege of being superior and women are playing submissive role. Patriarchal society is hindering women in almost all aspects of life and this male dominance is a major cause for all the violence against woman. Women are vulnerable to different types of violence: Honour killings, forced marriages, exchange marriages, rape… A women´s response to abuse is often limited by the options available to her. They live in fear, they don´t have economic support, then there is also emotional dependence and the lack of the support from family and friends. Fear of social stigma prevents women to ask for help. About 70% of abused women have never told anyone about abuse.
Women in Pakistan are struggling for the protection of women´s rights and gender equality since the country was born. In 1947 women did not have it easy, they were victims of the traumatic events. It is reported that 75.000 women were abducted and raped during the partition of India. Soon after Pakistan´s independence, woman named Fatma Jinnah gave an inspiration to Muslim women. She formed the Women´s Relief Committee which oversaw refugee transfers between India and Pakistan. It evolved later into the All Pakistan Women´s Association.
In the 1980s, Women´s Action Forum used activism to oppose General Zia´s vision of Islam. His gender related orders and laws made the situation for women worse. His rules are understood as gender biased laws. Discriminatory ordinances and executive decrees reduced women´s legal status in various ways and caused fear and doubts in society, causing redefinition of some socio-cultural prejudices against the female population.
Feminism in Pakistan gained attraction during Benazir Bhutto´s two terms as Prime Minister (1988-1990 and 1993 and 1996). She defined empowerment as “the right to be independent, to be educated, to have choices in life. We must shape a world free from exploitation and maltreatment of women. A world in which women have opportunities to rise to the highest level in politics, business, diplomacy and other spheres of life” She also opened Police Service of Pakistan to the women too. She started the first All Women´s police station with the purpose of reducing male police domination and creating gender sensitization. In 1989 Benazir started Women Studies Center that offered Bachelor´s Degrees in Women´s Studies in 6 major universities in Pakistan. She patronised the establishment of a puppetry theatre. The main goal was to develop general awareness among the rural population through entertainment. She advocated the protection of women from domestic violence and war. She also connected the need for education of girls and women to their ability to work and to get their economic independence.
From 1990s feminist movement struggles to define its contours, a debate that continues today. The main debate between feminists is whether to define feminism through a secular or an Islamic lens. Islamic feminists interpret the religious texts in a feminist perspective. They can be viewed as a branch of interpreters who ground their arguments in Islam and its teachings, seek the full equality of women and men in the personal and public sphere. By Islamic scholars, Islamic feminism is more radical than secular feminism. Secular feminists consider feminism to be an extension of the basic, essential human rights, regardless of any religious principles. Since the Pakistani society is very religious and conservative, secular feminists are often labelled as “western agents” and heretics.
Feminism doesn´t mean being anti-male or anti-Islamic. It doesn´t say that the women should be superior than men. The messages that feminism send are not related to religious practice, feminism simply strives to make the lives of women easier than they are used to.
Today, Pakistani feminist continue to fight against violence against women. Although, feminism movements made a difference and Pakistani women have been going to school and university, working and earning money, they still live with widespread gender-based violation. The belief that women don´t deserve education, jobs or existence outside the domestic sphere and a belief that women is only a property of a men still exists in Pakistani society.
3. Pakistan today
It seems that the Pakistan is still loyal to its patriarchal and traditional norms. Participation of women in society is still not satisfied. After three decades feminist groups are still fighting against violation against women.
The Asia-Pacific region as whole has shown significant progress in several areas, especially maternal health and adult literacy, however considerable steps need to be taken to increase women´s active participation in the workforce.
On the other side, according to the Human Rights Watch Report 2018, violence against women and girls, including rape, honour killings, acid attacks, domestic violence and forced marriage remained a serious problem in Pakistan. A recent report by the HRCP reveals that in the last three years 2.900 women have been killed in the name of honour. The number of the victims is probably even higher when we consider the fact that most of these crimes are not reported. Despite the efforts of the human rights organisations, honour crimes still exist all over Pakistan.
Laws that are projecting women´s right exist in Pakistan, but the problem is that they are not implemented. Cultural norms are too traditional and strict in Pakistan. Women´s rights justice demands transformation of cultural norms, which cannot be changed overnight. This transformation requires an evolutionary process.
In general, Pakistani women in 2018 are still suffering under discrimination and oppression. It seems that the Pakistani society is entered into a dark tunnel of social injustice, economic disparity and material exploitation of women. After all, this is not the end of the fight. It must be some rays of hope. It must be out there some people who care, some institutions that stand up for the truth. It must be some women who are ready to raise their voice, to defeat their fear and fight for their rights. It must be some men who understand the importance of gender equality and fight for human rights. It is the time that women´s revolution arrives in Pakistan.
It can be said that revolution begins when a human being says “Enough”. As we see in the media Pakistan´s women have finally said “enough”. Their voice is laughter than before. The time is come to put an end on the domestic violence, the sexual harassment and abuse, the beatings, acid attacks and honour killings. Seems like Pakistani women have finally found some courage to make a big step forward.
Honour killing is a denial of the individual freed of expression especially the freedom of women. As we saw from the examples above, Pakistan woman does not have the right to choose a person she wants to marry, it is also not allowed to have a boyfriend, divorce is disgracefully too. Her family must choose who she is going to marry and when. Women in Pakistan are living in the constant fear of getting killed, because they “dishonoured” their family out of some reason.
Honour killing is a way to create fear among all women. The tragic death of their sisters, friends and other women should discourage them to act in ways the family and society prohibits them to do. From this reason of fear women give up of their rights. If she “brings the shame” to her family it can happen easily that she is not the only one that will be killed without any regret. The life of her kids, friends and other dear people are in danger too. However, in some cases family doesn´t want to kill their daughter, but in some villages meetings are help with the village head to decide of the destiny of the accused women. For example there is a case of Kainat Soomro , she was gang raped and on the village meeting was decided that her family must kill her because she lost her virginity before the marriage. Her family refused to kill her and in the last eight years they were attacked several times for not complying with the traditional law.
I realised reading all this examples that the women in Pakistan are facing the objectification. They are observed as objects and they are used to uphold traditional values. She is in obligation to fulfil the demands of the society and if she doesn´t succeed the society will get rid of them.
The women will finally win but they will to have to be on the forefront of the struggle themselves. They will however need to join hands with all the forces committed to a just, democratic and caring society in Pakistan.