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Horrific honour crimes

ACCORDING to the Aurat Foundation, 38 women were murdered in Sindh last month, out of which 17 were killed in ‘honour’ crimes.

This is an appalling disclosure which demands the government’s urgent attention, especially since it has passed legislation that should have curbed the practice of honour-related crimes. It seems that the law has had no impact – partly for lack of its enforcement, or how else does one explain such horrifying crimes taking place with such regularity? If women are not killed for dishonouring their families, they are often raped or gang-raped or they commit suicide because they are being forced into marrying against their will, or they are victims of domestic violence, unemployment or family disputes.

The report further states that 12 women were living in shelters out of fear for their lives from their families. Around 26 women had been arrested on various allegations or, worse, in place of their male relatives whom the police could not arrest.

Despite a law banning jirgas in the province, there were 15 such tribal meetings held on women-related issues and the verdicts passed were not favourable to women-four women, including young girls, were handed over as compensation to settle conflicts.

These are all abhorrent crimes that society cannot ignore any longer. Community activism must be encouraged, as it is in India, where grassroots leaders are actively involved in galvanising public opinion against social evils. Laws alone cannot bring about the desired change though their strict implementation is crucial.

For too long have men got away with committing heinous crimes against women because they know there is nothing to prevent them. Non-governmental organisations have played a vital role in raising awareness but that has not yet had the desired impact as these disturbing figures prove.

Society must undergo a change in its attitude towards women if it wants to bring to an end these horrific crimes.

Source: Dawn

Date:2/4/2007

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