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Women call for abolition of Jirga system

Karachi: Women organisations brought about a procession from Regal Chowk, Saddar on Tuesday afternoon on the occasion of ‘International Day for Elimination of Violence against women’ and shouted slogans for abolition of the Jirga system and the so-called honour killings. The procession terminated at the Karachi Press Club.

The procession was led by several non-government organisations (NGOs), including Aurat Foundation, Women’s Action Forum, Women’s Welfare Development Organisation, Helpline Trust, and Pakistan Fisherfolk’s Forum. “We demand that all anti-women laws and traditions should be brought to an end, including the Jirga system,” said Anees Haroon, Executive Director, Aurat Foundation, and a leading peace activist.

Banners and placards portrayed the problems faced by womenfolk in Pakistan and their struggle against an authoritarian and medieval system that treats women as second-class citizens and abhors women’s emancipation. Inscribed on these banners and placards were various demands such as, ‘Stop violence against women’, ‘Abolish Jirga system’, ‘Till when will religious parties keep mum on killing of women?’, ‘Ensure special transport for women’, ‘Honour killing is against the law’, ‘Where are the killers of women who were buried alive in Balochistan?’, ‘Ensure rights to working women’, ‘Stop trafficking in women’, ‘Israrullah Zehri and Hazar Khan Bijarani who support Karo-Kari are not our representatives,’ etc.

A press release issued on the occasion said the Aurat Foundation and Women’s Action Forum (WAF),along with other civil society organisations show their ‘disgust and repugnance’ over the increasing and intensive cases of violence against women in the country. “Today’s rally comprises women from different walks of life, from the Interior of Sindh to the Punjab, and rejects Jirgas as a parallel system of justice,” it added.

“We condemn the rampant violence against women at every level, be it societal, political, or domestic. Despite the awareness-raising campaigns by the women’s organisations and the media, there seems to be no relief. From January to September 2008 there were 190 cases of honour killing, 103 of domestic violence, 71 of rape and 50 of gang rape in Sindh,” it said.

“Horrific incident of burying five women alive in the name of honour in Jafferabad is also shameful example of abuse. The main accused are still at large. However, the Senator who defended this barbarism has been appointed federal minister,” it regretted.

“Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani as Minister for Education is a source of shame, since he has been involved in a Jirga to give five minor girls in marriage to the victim’s family to settle a murder case in a traditional practice known as Sang Chatti. The Supreme Court ordered arrest of MNA Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and 11 others in August 2007,” the press release said.

Meanwhile, Zia Ahmed Awan, Advocate of Madadgaar, an NGO, addressed a news conference on the occasion on Tuesday and said during nine years in Karachi 10,041 cases of violence against women were reported, wherein most cases, the victim’s close relatives such as husband, brother, father and brother-in-law were the perpetrators. He said 452 women were falsely accused and arrested, 697 women were brutally murdered, and 241 were goaded into committing suicide. Besides, 674 women were cruelly burnt alive, 310 were kidnapped for various reasons, 102 were arrested under the provisions of the Hudood Ordinance, 374 women were subjected to police harassment, 85 were declared Kari to secure the honour of their men, 165 were accused of adultery, 256 women were traded as cattle, 249 women were gang-raped, while 174 women were rape murdered.
Source: The News
Date:11/26/2008

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