THE logic that to retrieve a misplaced sense of ‘honour’, the members of a tribe or community have to subject women to violence of the most bestial kind is simply incomprehensible. Yet, such barbarism is reported regularly across the country. An incident has now surfaced in Sindh’s Mirpurkhas district where 20 men of the Tungri tribe kidnapped two teenage girls of the Rajput clan in Naokot town and subjected them to sexual assault. Reportedly, the men were incensed over the free-will marriage of a Tungri woman to a Rajput man. Given the twisted notions of tradition entrenched in society, this incident is not likely to be the last of its kind. This is because despite the official narrative to the contrary, both state and society remain deeply patriarchal and are narrow-minded about women’s rights. There is institutional acceptance of the archaic idea that a woman marrying a man of her own choice is guilty of bringing ‘dishonour’ to her family or tribe. We have frequently heard politicians and officials offering views that lend justification to such crimes on the pretext of religion or culture.
In fact, it is not simply about acceptance of the crime. In this case, the two young women, aged 14 and 19, stated that their kidnappers had active help from the area’s police. According to them, after being kidnapped they were first taken to the house of an ASI, before being shifted to the home of the prime accused. The authorities should thoroughly investigate the role of the police official and give him exemplary punishment if found guilty. It is impossible to root out this barbaric mindset unless the government removes officials who sympathise with it. When state officials condone or facilitate such crimes, the perpetrators get away with a sense of impunity. Additionally, backward notions are further entrenched as can be seen in the rising number of cases of violence against women in Sindh and Punjab. It’s about time the authorities treated such violence as a serious crime.
Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2022