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Prevention of honour killings

April 14, 2010

I WAS delighted to attend a seminar in Karachi on April 4 on 'Prevention of honour killings (karo-kari)'.

I appreciate the vigorous fight of the Sindh police against the distasteful custom of honour killings in the province.

The police made great efforts to execute the project sponsored by the Gender Justice Unit, founded by the Department for International Development (DFID), against the flagrant crime of honour killings.

The police have now set up an anti-karo-kari cell in four northern districts of Sindh Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki and Naushahro Feroz. The police have also set up a helpline (111-123588) in anti-karo-kari cells established in the above districts.

According to the crime figure compiled by the police department, from 2004 to 2008, 423 women and 209 men were killed in the name of honour. But the figure collected by NGOs such as Aurat Foundation and Madadgaar Helpline through the print and electronic media for the same period reveals that 2,829 people have been killed in the name of 'honour'.

The manual method of compilation of figures in this regard entailed a lot of errors which have been removed by the development of software that is being maintained for the authenticated data base.

Initially, the police would dither from registering FIRs and investigate cases related to honour killings, owing to the gender bias and traditional mindset of police officers.

These inhibitions have been overcome to a large extent by launching training workshops and short-tenure trainings at all levels, i.e. in Police Training Centres and District Police Headquarters of the province, to make the police aware of human rights, improve the method of investigation in general, and especially crimes perpetrated in the name of honour.

Furthermore, this move, on the one hand, helped law-enforcement officers to become familiar with international human rights and, on the other, sensitised them on evil violence against women, its gravity and psychological and sociological aspects.

The chief objective of organisation of such workshops was to enable police to explore maximum possibilities of better victim handling and protection mechanisms and instil awareness about preventive policies and strategies, pertaining to crime committed in the name of honour.

Besides, the police and social workers in collaboration with local landlords and tribal chiefs managed to make the people aware about human rights and wipe out such mean practices in urban, semi-urban and rural areas, which are virtually considered no-go areas.

Frequent commission of crimes in the name of honou in other districts of the province, such as Shikarpur, Kashmore, Jacobabad, Qambar and Larkana, also illustrate an urgent need for the prompt establishment of anti-karo-kari cells so that further gross violation of human rights in the name of honour may be avoided.

ALLAH BUX NOONARI
Shikarpur