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450 women killed in karo-kari in 2004: HRCP

KARACHI – The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on December 09,expressed concern on jirga system in Sindh and said it continues to weaken the judicial system and the democratic set-up.

In a press release issued on the eve of Human Rights Day, which -falls on Dec 10, the HRCP said the chief minister of Sindh himself has ,advocated the jirga system. The “Sindh Amicable Settlement of Disputes Ordinance 2004” was drafted, with the aim of legalising jirgas in Sindh. This issue must be addressed immediately, and it should be made clear that jirgas are illegal and unconstitutional, it said.

It said women continue to be killed in the name of honour, or under the pretext of this notion. The karo kari bill passed by the senate is not comprehensive and does not address the root of the problem. Official government figures show that 450 women have been killed this year in Pakistan to karo kari disputes. The actual figures are expected to be much higher.

The HRCP said atrocities committed by law enforcement agencies continue to be reported and deaths in custody have been reported at an alarming frequency, the most prominent being the bum­ing of two men at Gizri Police Station in Karachi.

It said incidents of acid throwing, domestic violence, rape and gang rape occur frequently. Victims are treated with callousness, with some newspapers printing names and photographs of rape victims. In a raid on Prince Cinema in Karachi, women were dragged by their hair and treated in a shameful manner. It said attacks on mosques and imambargahs and the killing of Mufti Shamzai once again gave rise to sectarian tensions. Mosques have become high security areas, with many people avoiding Friday prayers out of fear of violence.

“Attacks on the Pakistan American Cultural Center and corps commander, and the killing of Munawwar Suhrawardy con­tributed to the tension prevailing in Karachi. The number of terrorist killings and unidentifiable bodies found has increased,” it said.

The HRCP further said dis­crimination due to religious affilia­tion continues to affect people on political, social, economic, and educational levels. This tends to group minorities in closer-knit units that are not integrated into mainstream society.

It said an Ahmedi groom was arrested for using the words “InshaA]Iah” and “Marhoom” on his wedding invitation in Mirpurkhas. A shopkeeper in Ghotki was declared to be Qadiyani, so that he could be pressured into handing over his shop. A quarrel amongst children was turned into a Christian-Muslim dispute, resulting in an attack on a church in Mehmoodabad in Karachi.

It said a close look must be taken at the problems of fisherfolk, particularly in the light of recent events in Thatta and Badin. The harassment of fisher folk by the Rangers must be stopped. Also, the detention of fishermen by the coastal authorities of India and Pakistan must be given attention. The fishermen languish in prison for months, even years, without hope of release. This causes immense hard­ship not only for the detained fisher­men, but also for the fatnities who depend on their income.

The HRCP said the occupation of various schools, and colleges and hostels, particularly of Jinnah Courts, by the Rangers is a great source of concern. Water liydrants are controlled by Rangers, who seek to profit from the situation rather than improving it.

The HRCP said several cases of violence against children were seen. Abuse and sodomy of minors was frequently reported. The mur­der of Sassi and Hajra was a partic­ularly gruesome case.

“The condition of vulnerable groups, such as children, women, minorities, the elderly and mental­ly ill, shows no major improve­ment. HRCP calls for the strength­ening of institutions of democracy, rule of law and provision of basic rights to citizens,” it said.

Source: Daily Times

Date:12/10/2004

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