Honor and respect are common rhetoric employed to justify barbarity against women especially in this part of the world. Born a woman here is surely a bane. Denied every right including the right to educate themselves, to seek employment, to own property and not to forget the right to be acknowledged and respected, there are also times when they are openly and vehemently denied as basic a right as to live. This issue is a heinous offshoot of the social apocalypse in our country today, and is not confined to villages but has sound resonances in the urban and privileged areas too. Finding reasons for this is not at all a hard mathematics.
Call it a cultural dilemma or societal backwardness, women here are more considered a commodity than a person. Denying them their ‘personhood’, there ‘beings’ only represent the pride, honor and respect of their male ‘custodians’, or simply putting it a false boost to their male chauvinistic ego. This pride is so tender and fragile that it can be severely jilted by as little thing as a mere accusation. And there doesn’t necessarily have to be a concrete reason or substance behind such an allegation – any motive against a rival clan, a mere communication between the opposite genders or even refusing to accept arranged marriage can earn it. Once accused and ‘stained’, the only way to restore this honor is the deadly ‘honor killing’ or locally speaking, ‘Karo Kari’.
Thousands of women in Pakistan are killed in the name of false honor and respect, every year. ‘In 2002 alone over 382 people, about 245 women and 137 men, became victims of honor killings in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Over the course of six years, more than 4,000 women have died as victims of honor killings in Pakistan from 1999 to 2004. In 2005 the average annual number of honor killings for the whole nation was stated to be more than 10,000 per year.’ sources. And these are only figures, there are numerous cases each year that go unreported owing to the rude jolt to a girl and her family’s ‘respect’ if people come to know about it.
The methods used to execute this reprehensible act greatly vary with different regions and include; stoning, stabbing, burning and shooting to death after going through the horrors of torture; of slicing off ears, chopping off nose, throwing acids and the list is very long. Seems like there’s no limit to the torture inflicted on the women, branded and tattooed as objects in the barter socio-cultural system prevalent here.
In this culture of unaccountability to any authority, people get away with such an inhumane act by reasoning it with religion. A religion that advocates for the rights of the women more than any other religion does, is circumscribed to veils, women shying behind the walls of their homely cages, and is falsely accused of ordering to carry out the fatal execution. The idea is so deeply entrenched in the social and ideological structure, that it’s rather saddle-shaking for the politicians and rulers to take a firm action about it. Parliaments can’t pass bills, leaders hiccup speaking about it, merely calling the situation ‘disappointing’.
Awareness and education are the only panacea that can help our women emancipate the cruel clutches of their own men who gladly butcher them to prime their fake honor. And with the frugal budgets allocated for education that alone can hopefully bring out the awareness and the consequent ideological change, the time’s is not anywhere near. Until then, we are chained to this society that is coming undone by dishonoring its own women.