No justice for the Tahiras' of Sindh

Published April 23, 2015
Tahira on her wedding day. —Photo from 'Justice for Tahira Khoso' Facebook page.
Tahira on her wedding day. —Photo from 'Justice for Tahira Khoso' Facebook page.

Every day, at least two to three (and sometimes even more) cases of honour killing or karo-kari are reported in the Sindhi media. These cases now hardly acquire more than a column's space in Sindhi newspapers, though photos of the dead bodies or file pictures from when they were alive, are sometimes circulated.

The follow-up of such cases is just not considered of any significance. Most of the cases occurring in the more inaccessible rural areas are not even reported, because the media has no reach.

Still, some cases do end up getting some attention due to their brutality, as is the case with Tahira Khoso.

Also read: Senate passes bills against rape, honour killing

Tahira Bano Khoso was allegedly killed in front of her parents and other family members by her husband a month ago in Jacobabad, in the name of so-called honour.

According to Tahira's parents, her husband telephoned her parents and other relatives to come to their home immediately. When they arrived at their daughter’s home, they found her bathed in blood. The killers had first broken her bones by beating her with sticks. And soon after her parents arrived, they shot her and fled away.

Tahira was a graduate from Bahria College, and had gotten married after falling in love with a classmate named Waqar Umrani just 10 months ago.

Tahira attended primary school at the Bahria Foundation College. —Photo from 'Justice for Tahira Khoso' page.
Tahira attended primary school at the Bahria Foundation College. —Photo from 'Justice for Tahira Khoso' page.

Her case has been registered against the husband and accomplices, but they are powerful people, so the police is unable to arrest them; they have somehow even manipulated the investigation and forced the police to get the case transferred from Jacobabad to Shikarpur district for apparently no reason, other than the request of accomplice Ghulam Fareed aka Comrade Umrani.

According to Sindhi media reports, the culprits have taken protection in Balochistan. Not a single one of them has been arrested as yet.

Also read: Reinterpreting ‘honour killings’

As her parents and family are protesting for justice, other political, religious parties and the civil society has also joined in.

Activists have created a Facebook page “Justice for Tahira Khoso”, which currently has over 4200 likes; they are all raising their voices against the killing of an innocent girl. Hers will probably be the first case in Sindh to have drawn the media’s attention through social media.

The laws dictate severe punishments for honour-killings and other acts of violence against women. The Supreme Court had declared jirgas as unconstitutional. The rule book suggests strict punishments for the vani custom.

But these curses are nowhere close to seeing an end; jirgas are hold in every nook and corner of Sindh, as are girls all over subjected to vani. The authorities have spectacularly failed at implementing a single law in the province.

The Sindh Assembly passed a domestic violence (prevention and protection) bill on March 8, 2013. But a report published in Dawn the next year said that as many as 421 cases of violence were reported against women in just three months (July-September) of 2014. According to the report, 76 women were murdered for different reasons, while the number of those killed under the pretext of 'honour' was 57.

It is safe to assume that the actual numbers are much larger than the reported ones.

Voices against violence have increased manifold over the years. Everyone from local humanitarian organisations to the United Nations have gotten louder. Nationally, the struggle has grown bigger and legislation more extensive, but when it comes to putting in some action, the government seems toothless before the jirga holders; the Waderas and Sardars.

It has become a tradition of sorts to just digest such stories about violence against women and refuse to tackle them head on.

There is no need to introduce more laws; just the implementation of previous ones will do.

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