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Karo-kari killings in Sindh

THIS is apropos of your editorial, ‘Condemnable to the core’ (Oct 29), regarding the case of young Tasleem Solangi, who was thrown before dogs under the custom of karo-kari.

This heinous crime has been claiming the lives of thousands of innocent people throughout the province of Sindh every year.

Most of the incidents occur in small villages where the woman killed as kari is buried at home without performing any formal rituals.

Only a few of these cases come to light like the case of the unfortunate Tasleem Solangi.

Karo-kari has basically been a custom practised by certain Baloch tribes. Historically, the practice had been alien to the liberal society of Sindh, which came face to face with it in the 13th century when a magnanimous wave of Baloch migrants crossed into Sindh after Mongols invaded their land.

But this custom was very sporadic and confined only to some of the Baloch tribes settled in Sindh.

No Sindhi ever indulged in this heinous practice, which was further reduced during the colonial rule as severe penalties were introduced both for the individual offender and the erring tribe.

However, there has been a surge witnessed in the crime for some time. During my tenure as director, Centre for Information and Research in SZABIST, we conducted a study on karo-kari killings. It came to light that in most of the cases the victims were from middle and lower income groups.

An interesting fact came to light that the women who earned were very rarely killed.

The background interviews showed that as the killing of a woman who earned a reasonable amount could disturb the family budget, it was resorted to only in rare circumstances.

The investigations revealed that usual causes for killing women were: husband’s dislike for his wife, desire for second marriage, to extract money, to get a new woman in penalty from the rival tribe and to disgrace a rival.

It also came to light that more than 80 per cent of karo-kari killings took place only in two (former) divisions of Sindh: Larkana and Sukkur.

One of the most important findings in this study was that almost 85 per cent of the cases of karo-kari were committed in the tribes of Baloch origin.

One of the most important factors responsible for karo-kari killings in Sindh has been the role of the police.

The study showed that the police failed to register even those cases of karo-kari killings which were reported in the press.

Then the rate of apprehending the offenders was abysmally low. The basic reason for this state of affairs has been that most of the policemen are recruited locally.

Being part of these tribes themselves, they consider the karo-kari a family matter relating to honour and not a murder.

Then the political and administrative structure of the country is such that several tribal leaders are either sitting in the legislative assemblies or exercise considerable influence over the state apparatus on the basis of their electoral strength.

In the absence of changes in the law and behaviour of the police department, the chances to slash the practice of karo-kari are not bright.
Source: Dawn
Date:11/6/2008

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