Death of compassion

Published May 29, 2014 07:16am

EVEN in a country where violence against women is routine and ‘honour killings’ remain an appalling reality, the crime that occurred in Lahore on Tuesday was particularly horrific. On one of the city’s busiest roads, a bustling area abutting the Lahore High Court and dominated by lawyers’ offices, a young woman was beaten to death with bricks and stones in broad daylight, in full view of the public. Her transgression? She had married according to her own wishes, and she had filed a petition in court against the abduction case her family had had registered against her husband. At the time of the attack, she was on her way to record a statement in court in favour of her husband. Her killers? Her father and two brothers.

Those who shake their heads over the grotesque attacks on women in the name of some antediluvian notion of ‘honour’, tend to raise the point that these are dark crimes usually committed behind closed doors — that the victims are quietly erased from the public memory and the perpetrators, mostly close relatives, remain unprosecuted and unpunished. The most shocking aspect of this killing, however, is that all the people witnessing the crime, even the law enforcers, were silent spectators as a woman was bludgeoned to her death. They turned their backs as she screamed for help. How are we to understand this? Was it because the victim was a woman, and the attack concerned ‘honour’, and the spectators were overwhelmingly male and saw the murder as some internal ‘family matter’ where no intervention was due? Did they shut out her cries and think this was what she deserved? Had it been a man, would people have intervened? Or has society become so brutalised that all human compassion has vanished? Whatever the case, all indications are that a twisted psyche dominates, and that society is no longer willing or able to look at itself in the mirror because what it would see there would be nothing short of frightening.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2014


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Comments (10) Closed


BRR
May 29, 2014 08:06am

Honor indeed. Something to be proud about. Honor at the cost of women's lives. Women are expendable at the altar of honor, just as minorities are expendable at the altar of Islam.

Feroz
May 29, 2014 10:52am

In Pakistan women are property of men and across the board all men subscribe to this philosophy, why will they interfere on the road or elsewhere when women get beaten or murdered ? The CII and other such regressive bodies are very responsible for the current status of women. No wonder now there are suggestions that girls as young as fifteen can also be made objects of pleasure, matrimony being merely an conduit. When religion is used as a tool, not just misogyny but every form of tolerance gets ejected from the window.

Thiru
May 29, 2014 12:35pm

in whatever pictures shown, the husband and his family seem to be unscathed. He seems to be quite ready giving interviews to BBC and the like and no one is asking him why he did not intervene to take a few blows to save her and his baby that she was carrying?

prafulla shrivastva
May 29, 2014 02:15pm

Disgusting, not acceptable, shame to entire country what else can be written on it.

John Wu
May 29, 2014 05:16pm

If there is any honour remaining, the murderers will be executed and denied any form of burial. The policemen on duty at the court will be dismissed from the force and jailed for many years, as should anyone who provided help and support to the murderers. I am not seeking to impose "western" standards on Pakistan, because this behaviour is appalling by any standards. Women are not treated like this even in Africa, except where extremists are in charge.

waseem jan
May 29, 2014 05:57pm

Lets take it from another angle.......consider the family of the deceased,day by day being humiliated by a society which takes pleasure by humiliating others.....in both the cases society is guilty..it iz society that provoked murder and it is also society who turned their backs during bludgeoning.....Alas....I am the society....

SMQ Zaman
May 29, 2014 06:05pm

Thank you to Dawn for its prompt Editorial and posing these difficult but conscionable questions for/to our nation, communuties, civil society, lawmaker's, law implementer's and our judicial system........

BBC e-News writes, "Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has described the stoning to death of a woman by her family in front of a Lahore court as "totally unacceptable".

He ordered the chief minister of Punjab province to take "immediate action" and submit a report by Thursday evening...."

24 hours or so late, Mr Prime Minister, but we hope that you mean 'toughest action and changes in the law and its implementation' against such a heinous act of violence and 'no business as usual', please.....

Yet another act of 'heinous act of violence' and 'barbarism' against a young woman of 25 year-old (a case of Romeo & Juliet, very much in love) and an 'adult and sui juris' in the misconceived 'Name of Faith' and misplaced 'Honour', and what's more revealing and tragic that it was carried out in broad daylight in front of the Lahore High Court on the famous Mall Road!

There's no sacredness for life in that country, anymore; and when will this evil social practice, by sane Wali's or protectors of women, come to an end?

SMQ Zaman
May 29, 2014 06:06pm

Thank you to Dawn for its prompt Editorial and posing these difficult but conscionable questions for/to our nation, communities, civil society, lawmaker's, law implementer's and our judicial system........

BBC e-News writes, "Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has described the stoning to death of a woman by her family in front of a Lahore court as "totally unacceptable".

He ordered the chief minister of Punjab province to take "immediate action" and submit a report by Thursday evening...."

24 hours or so late, Mr Prime Minister, but we hope that you mean 'toughest action and changes in the law and its implementation' against such a heinous act of violence and 'no business as usual', please.....

Yet another 'heinous act of violence' and 'barbarism' against a young woman of 25 year-old (a case of Romeo & Juliet, very much in love) and an 'adult and sui juris' in the misconceived 'Name of Faith' and misplaced 'Honour', and what's more revealing and tragic that it was carried out in broad daylight in front of the Lahore High Court on the famous Mall Road!

There's no sacredness for life in that country, anymore; and when will this evil social practice, by sane Wali's or protectors of women, come to an end?

From: A British-Pakistani national, a practising professional and an Intl. Development management consultant, and a civil society activist on social media.

Syed Ahmed
May 30, 2014 07:18am

Was the first person who threw brick at Ms Farzana Iqbal Sadiq and Ameen? Will all other assailants affirm that they never did anything that was dishonourable like cheating on a spouse, not fulfilling a promise to a child, stealing money or any other thing, plagiarism of any kind, lying or indulging in falsehood, not respecting parents or other members of the family, acting in an unethical way in business, not sincere with their job. Marrying someone of her choice is never a dishonourable act for which the girl was inhumanly tortured to death by the family. All of them must be tried for murder.

Muhammad Shabbir
May 30, 2014 09:38pm

Extreremly sad happening.