The Honor-Revenge Attack
A 50-year-old Pakistani woman was stripped naked and forced to parade thus in the streets of Neelor Bala village after 4 men had barged into her house in search of her son Kazim and found him not there. This honor- revenge event took place in front of her younger, 10-year-old, son, who was slapped a couple of times before his mother was attacked and later was restrained by the arms when he tried to reach out to her. Villagers did not try to stop the incident because the men were armed.
The Background Story Of The Honor Revenge
The reason for the attack was that one of the 4 men, Mohammad Salman, a neighbor of the woman, suspected that the woman’s son, Kazim, was one of two men who had been having illicit relations with his wife while he was away working in Lahore. The other suspect was Rashid, Kazim’s cousin. Mohammad Salman had been advised by his jirga (tribal council of elders) to divorce his wife. Instead, he went with his 3 brothers searching for the suspects in order to kill them.
Because the woman and her family feared the 4 brothers and the tribal chief, they fled the village for safety. However, the incident came to the attention of a human-rights organization, Sahara Development Foundation, under whose protection the woman returned to lodge a report and to testify in a magistrate’s court.
The 4 brothers, together with the self-proclaimed tribal chief, who owns an arms shop in the city of Haripur, have fled. However, 2 other men identified by the woman as being involved in the cases, have been arrested.
The Police And The Jirga
It is reported that pressure by Sahara Development Foundation and media attention have forced the police to act. It seems that normally such events pass unnoticed, but in this case even the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Abbotabad, Dr Naseem Khan, visited the remote village of Neelor Bala in Khyber Pakhkunkhwa province and pledged to track down the 5 men who have run away.
Non-governmental organizations blame the police and the judicial system for allowing certain elements to take the law into their own hands. According to Qamar Hayat, director of Sahara Development Foundation, the root cause of the problem is the jirga system, whose decisions destroy the peace in society. To illustrate his point he cited another incident in another village in which a 14-year-old girl was shot dead by her family because of a jirga decision. He said that, despite strong evidence that the girl was killed by a round of bullets, the police maintained that she was killed accidentally by a single bullet while cleaning a pistol. Qamar Hayat warned, “Haripur is a peaceful city and if the government and the system continue to encourage those who simply do not respect women’s rights, society will collapse”.
The present case is also said to have features of abuse of women’s rights apart from the forcing of a woman to parade naked in the streets. Villagers have reported that the tribal chief made Mohammad Salman’s wife sign divorce papers that allow Mohammad Salman to retain the wife’s haq mehar after the divorce. The haq mehar is the sum of money assigned to the wife at marriage to enable her to have something to survive on after divorce or widowhood.
Think About It
How important is it to get the victim to lodge a police complaint and testify in court? How much effort should be made to give victims the protection they need to speak out about an incident such as this one? How much pressure should be put on the police and justice system to prevent abuses as those in this case?