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Karo Kari: A social menace By Nighat Tauseef

There are common traditions and customs of violence against women in Pakistan. Honour killing is a common tradition in which women are killed in the name of honour. In Balochistan, it is called “Siah Kari”, in Sindh, “Karo kari” in NWFP ‘Tor Tora’ and in Punjab “Kala Kali.”

Karo Kari though has no religious base, but it is rampant in Sindh province. In a survey it is revealed that the incidents of real Karo Kari are only less than one per cent. In most of the cases, Karo Kari is done for personal gains, enmity or to snatch away a girl of personal liking for marriage in case if parents refuse to give hand of the girl in marriage. In such cases, it is easy to make a sister, wife or any other relative a ‘Karo’ or ‘kari’ and then to kill them to serve their own purpose.

In this heinous custom which has taken the shape of a crime, the women usually become the victims and men often safely run away. In the past it was considered to be a family matter, but now it has become a matter of personal gains and polygamy such as marriage of liking, acquiring of land and to write-off the loans. The cases of Karo kari are decided by the Jarga at local level and the criminals are left without punishment. Waderas and local police play an important role in Karo Kari cases.

Police often do not register the case and waderas keep the women (karis) as “Saam” in their custody or sale them on higher bids. There are many cases of ‘Saarn’ or selling of women, but these cases (an estimated 60 per cent) are not reported in police or press. In such cases police take huge money and it is a great source of their income, resulting in enhancement of Karo Kari cases.

Usually the cases of Karo Kari are decided at local jirga level and these end up in imposing the fine, taking hand of a girl in marriage or obtaining a piece of land and finally the murderers are ac­quitted from punishment. As many as 40% of the murdered women in Karo Kari cases are usually unmarried and are in the age bracket of 18 to 30 years while 60% of them are married. As a matter of fact, due to this custom, greater number of women is killed than men. They are killed by their fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands and first cousins. No post-mortem and no funeral or prayer etc are done for Kari women. Above all, at some places, there is separate graveyard or a separate place in a graveyard for Kari women.


1) Feudal system is the main cause of this evil custom of Karo Kari.
2) Illiteracy and unawareness of religion’s true teachings.
3) Revenge
4) Greed: To acquire the piece of land.
5) Loan: to avoid the payment of loans.
6) Poverty
7) Marriage of liking
8) Taunt (Talana): It is a common in rural Sindh, it is of most embarrassing and humiliating.
9) Property: To save the family’s property.
10) Progressive minded girls

Facts finding

In the Larkana district, only in March 2000, 38 women were killed while in District Jacobabad in 2002 in the Months of June, July and August 20 women were killed and only 3 men were killed. This shows the higher rate of women killings.


1) The laws regarding Karo kari should be implemented strongly and forcefully.
2) Police should take the matter of Kari Kari as party as it did in a case at Larkana.
3) Judgment given by the Waderas should not be accepted as legal decisions.
4) Wadera and Jirga system should be abolished
5) Awareness of the tradition that it is not religious and beneficial for society should be created.
6) Literacy rate should be increased in the rural areas and steps for alleviation of poverty should also be taken.

-The author is conducting nationwide research on Karo Kari.

Source: The News