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Honour killing denounced: CEN 9.05.08 p 7. September 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Politics, Social Inequality.

The Bishop of Lahore has denounced a Pakistani senator for defending in a speech in parliament the honour killing of five women.

On Aug 30, the Rt. Rev. Alexander Malik, Bishop of Lahore and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan said the he was shocked that Baluchistan Senator Israr Ullah Sehri would defend the “heinous” crime of murdering women to defend tribal “honour.” .

In the upper house of parliament on Aug 29, Senator Sehri broke into a speech by a female legislator, Senator Bibi Yasmin Shah, and defended honour killings as a traditional custom, saying ‘these are our norms which should not be highlighted negatively.”

Senator Shah had brought before parliament the case of five Baluchi women who had been buried alive for defying tribal custom. The crime had been covered up, she alleged, because the one of the murderers was the brother of a People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) government minister.

The incident allegedly took place in the Jafarabad district of Baluchistan in the village of Baba Kot in June, Asian Human Rights Commission reports. Three teenage girls sought to marry men with whom they were in love. The tribal elders had refused permission for the girls to contract a “love marriage”, and the three were preparing to seek legal sanction from a civil court for permission to marry according to their own choosing.

According to AHRC, six men, including the brother of a Baluchistan government minister, abducted the three girls at gun point, and drove the girls into the wilderness in a government car. The three girls were shot and dumped into a shallow grave, but were still alive. One of the girl’s mother and an aunt protested the shooting and sought to stop the burial of the still breathing girls.

The two women were seized and thrown into the grave, and all five women were buried alive, AHRC said.

“After one month the police have still not registered the case and it is difficult to get more detailed information,” AHRC reported, noting “the provincial minister is so powerful that police are reluctant to provide details on the murder.”

AHRC stated the provincial minister “confirmed the incident by saying that only three women had been killed by unknown persons. He denied his or his brother’s involvement. He went on to say that the police will not disclose any information about the case as to do so now would be implicate themselves. However, concerned officers of two different police stations have confirmed the incident and explained that no one is providing any information. Also as they could not find the graves of the victims it is difficult to register the case. The victim’s family members have since left the place and their whereabouts are unknown.”

Originally a Baluchi and Pathan tribal custom, honour killings are “founded in the twin concepts of honour and commodity of women. Women are married off for a bride price paid to the father. There is no concept for girls to get marriage on their own choice and if it is found then, they are killed in the name of honour,” AHRC said.

In her speech denouncing the murders, Senator Shah charged that the government was stonewalling the investigation because of the involvement of the PPP minister in the killing. The leader of the House, Senator Raza Rabbani said that although the killings were a provincial matter, he would ask the government to investigate.

Bishop Malik urged the government to apprehend the killers and bring them to trial. Honour killings were inhumane and uncivilized, the bishop said, violated the tenets of both Islam and Christianity, and demeaned women.

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