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‘Karo-Kari’ couple calls for protection

Karachi: Reena and Hussain Ali, a couple who have taken shelter in the city for the past nine months, have appealed to the government to give them protection from the father and relatives of Reena, who are after their lives after the Jirga declared them Karo-Kari.

Addressing the media in a hurriedly called press conference at the Madadgar Helpline office on Wednesday, the couple said that they were forced to live far from their home district, Larkana, owing the fear of being killed by Reena’s relatives.

Reena told the media that she used to work as a lady health worker in Badah, the village where Hussain lived. The two started liking each other and Reena disclosed this to her parents. As a result, she was given a mental and physical torture and was confined indoors.

It was when her family tried to marry her off to a 50-year old man that she decided to leave home. She contacted Hussain and the couple tied the knot in September last year in Karachi. Meanwhile the relatives of Reena registered fake cases against the two of them.

Hussain contacted the helpline and found legal support from the Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) after which a constitutional petition was filed in the court.

“An achievement is that the division bench of Sindh High Court (SHC) has ordered withdrawal of the cases that had been registered against the couple,” President, LHRLA, Advocate Zia Awan told the media. “Moreover the court has directed the DIG and PPO, Larkana, to give them protection.” However Awan said that this does not make the couple secure.

Awan said that now is the time of police accountability. “The case is very clear; they are adults and married and have the right to stay together,” he said while adding that now it is the duty of the police to provide them security.

Divulging their grievances and problems to the media, Hussain said that he had been working in Karachi for the past nine months but it was not easy for him and Reena since they are always under mental pressure. “I cannot work at one place fearing the Jirga people would be hounding us. Nor I can concentrate at work since I am constantly worried for Reena,” said a grieved Ali.

“Had we not had the support of LHRLA, we would have been killed by now,” said Ali who fears that, despite court orders, their life is not safe anywhere. The worried husband said that his wife was also not in a condition to bear all this since her pregnancy is at the peak. “It has been difficult for us so far but we don’t know how we are going to carry on once we have the baby,” he said.

Hussain said that now that there was no legal problem as such, they still felt that their lives were at stake and they could not return to their home district since the Jirga people wouldn’t spare them.

Reena knows all those who are after their lives and has given the list of names to the LHRLA. However, Awan said that the victims wouldn’t be able to register any case due to the feudal hold in the district.

“For God’s sake, please help us and provide us protection,” said Reena while her husband says that he does not even have enough money to take his wife through medical procedures.
Source: The News
Date:6/18/2009

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