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Government fails to protect women from Karo-kari

KARACHI, April 6: The provincial government was criticized by the opposition in Sindh Assembly on April 6, for failing to provide protection to women from the questionable tradition of Karo-kari.

Humaira Alvani of the opposition PPP Parliamentarians, on a point of order, raised the issue of a lady school teacher from Gambat in Khairpur district, Rozina Ujjan, who had sought refuge in Karachi after a jirga had declared her kari and pronounced death sentence for her.

Mrs. Alvani complained that Rozina Ujjan’s life was in danger, but, the authorities had not provided her protection. She questioned as to how long this black custom would be allowed to prevail in Sindh and when a law against Karo-kari would be passed by the assembly.

She accused the government of deliberately shying away from bringing a bill in the House to legislate against such traditions, which were meant to victimize women. Rozina Ujjan was sitting in the Speaker’s gallery when Mrs. Alvani drew attention of the House towards her plight.

Leader of the opposition Nisar Khuhro slammed the government for allegedly patronizing those who were trying to perpetuate this heinous custom. Responding to the point raised by Nisar Khuhro, Sindh Minister for Women Development Dr. Saeeda Malik said that she had talked to the IGP Sindh on the issue.

She further pointed out that Karo-kari was not an issue of the opposition alone, but also a matter of concern for the government. She assured Rozina Ujjan of full protection.

Sindh Minister for Population Welfare Imtiaz Ahmad Shaikh said that a bill against Karo-kari would soon be introduced in the House for legislation. Rozina Ujjan, who was a school teacher in village Suk Wahan, taluka Gambat, was married five months back to Sadiq Uhrain.

Ujjan was standing with her sister outside her house from where a 15-year-old boy passed. On seeing this, her husband Sadiq Uhrain declared her kari and referred the matter to local jirga.

In its first meeting the jirga found Rozina Ujjan innocent. However, Sadiq got the decision reversed in the next sitting of jirga and divorced her. As she felt threatened, she moved to Karachi along with her brother and mother.

Criticizing the government for its alleged failure to do anything in Shaista Almani case, Nisar Khuhro said that another woman had come to Karachi for refuge after being rendered homeless. He said the fact the victims of Karo-kari were seeking opposition’s support clearly reflected that the people had lost faith in government pronouncement.

Rozina Ujjan was later taken to the opposition leader’s chamber. Talking to newsmen after the session, Dr. Saeeda Malik claimed that she had visited the chamber of opposition leader Nisar Khuhro and had met Rozina Ujjan. The minister said that she had assured her of every possible help.

Dr. Saeeda Malik said, “Being a woman, I realize the problems of Rozina Ujjan who is also four-month pregnant.” The government, she said, could send her to Darul Aman and provide security.

However, Nisar Khuhro denied that any of the ministers including Dr. Saeeda Malik had visited his chamber to meet Rozina Ujjan. He slammed the government for its alleged double standards and also criticized the law minister for saying that by raising the issue of Karo-kari the opposition was trying to waste time of the House.
Source: Dawn
Date:4/7/2004

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