Pakistanis try confronting shame of honor killing
KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - Ayesha Baloch was dragged to a field, her brother-in-law held the 18-year-old down, her husband sat astride her legs and slit her upper lip and nostril with a knife....
They call such assaults on women a matter of "honor" in some Pakistani communities, but for the majority it is a source of national shame.
Married less than two months ago in Pakistan's central district of Dera Ghazi Khan, Baloch was accused of having sexual relations with another man before marriage.
"First they tortured me and beat me. I started screaming. Akbar then caught my hands and pulled me to the ground. Essa sat on my legs and cut my nose and lips," Baloch mumbled through her bandages at hospital in the city of Multan.
"I was bleeding and started screaming after they fled on a motorcycle. People heard me and rescued me and took me to my mother's home."
At least she wasn't killed.
The same week, a world away from Baloch's village, social activists, parliamentarians and community leaders gathered in the suburban, leafy capital of Islamabad to launch a campaign -- "We Can End Honor Killing."Since, of course, honor killing is so important a part of the religious practice of Islam.
Farhana Faruqi Stocker, country director of international aid agency Oxfam, said some 10,000 people called "change-makers" had signed up so far.
But Stocker knows two constituencies will be vital to the campaign's success.
"The mindset of legislators has to be changed in order for good legislation to come out," Stocker told Reuters.
But she is well aware that there are many remote rural areas of Pakistan where maulvis, or clerics, exert more influence than local government and federal law.
"In order to bring change, we have to engage with clerics."
Honor killings are known as "karo-kari" killings.For more on this see Religion of Mercy.This happens everywhere in Pakistan, and in Islamic populations generally, but is particularly bad in the rural areas. That is a lot of area.
A woman is deemed a "black woman," a "kari," once she is accused of having sex outside of marriage and is liable to be killed. "Karo" is the male version.
The custom is rooted in tribalism, although a strict interpretation of Islam's hudood penal code also rules that adulterers should be stoned to death.
Mukhtaran Mai, an icon for oppressed women and herself the victim of a gang rape in 2002, said police should enforce the law without bias, but getting more girls into school was crucial, too.Is there a chance of success in any effort to end honor-murder? No.
"Until women are allowed to get educated ... these crimes will continue," said Mai, whose rape was ordered by village elders after her 12-year-old brother was accused of having sexual relations with a woman of another tribe.
Some 70 percent of Pakistanis live in rural areas where feudalism and tribalism still thrive and traditional codes apply.
Police face an uphill battle even to stop an increase in honor killings, never mind eradicate the crime, according to Fida Hussain Mastoi, assistant inspector-general of police in the southern province of Sindh.
Days earlier, Nur Jehan died in Karachi, a month after being shot four times by relatives who accused her of loose morals.
They tracked her down in the city, having traveled from a village in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, then seized her, shot her and left her for dead in a ditch. She survived for a month in hospital, until a stomach wound became infected.
She was 14.