KARACHI: A documentary highlighting the issue of honour killings in Pakistan was screened at T2F on Sunday. It was part of a programme titled ‘The honour deception — celebrating women’ organised to bring to light the cases of mistaken honour crimes.
The 16-minute film, directed by Aisha Gazdar, begins with the assertion that European and Asian societies in history were patriarchal. Then the focus shifts to our part of the globe and the issue of zar, zameen and zann is touched upon. It is described through narration in English that the origins of honour killings in our society are deep-rooted in patriarchal culture. They exist in the forms of siah kari, karo kari, etc. It is deemed men’s right to declare a women kari if they feel that they (women) have morally transgressed.
The film presents data according to which in 2010 alone 791 cases of honour killings happened in Pakistan, out of which 161 occurred in the province of Sindh — Kashmore, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Larkana.
At this point a woman’s, Shahida Tunio, interview is shown. She, despite being the mother of four children, is ill-treated by her husband and mother-in-law on mere suspicion. Then interviews of some experts (retired Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, Anis Haroon and Amar Sindhu) and those who deal with the issue on a regular basis are run to put across different points of view on the subject. This is interspersed by shots of women who were brutally treated by their men.
It is pointed out that the first point of reference in such cases is the tribal system’s jirga where elders give their verdict on the matter. Poet and social activist Amar Sindhu informs viewers on the political economy of honour crimes and claims that the sardar often gets to make money when these cases are brought to him.
Other experts opine that often to settle property and other family disputes, women are subjected to honour crimes. Anis Haroon raises the point that it is the state’s responsibility to safeguard the lives of its citizens.
A moving scene in the documentary comes when Suhanna Mangi’s case is drawn attention to. When she takes the chadar off her head, her injured and bruised head is revealed. Her husband, despite ill-treating her, is set free after two months in jail, because “what choice does the wife have but to live with a man who almost took her life?” Despite the existence of relevant laws women find themselves in situations where they cannot go farther beyond a point.
Ms Sindhu says she believes the abolishment of the jirga system, along with some other steps, is one way to fix things.
Nasir Aslam Zahid says the police and prosecution system should be more effective. Anis Haroon suggests work at the government level must be done to get rid of this social problem.