Neither the Veil Nor the Four Walls

Neither the Veil Nor the Four Walls

Subjects like honor killing (locally known as Karo Kari), is not new for people belong to countries like Pakistan, where it now became a part of everyday life to some. September 9, 2008 THREE TEENAGE girls have been buried alive by their tribe in a remote part of Pakistan to punish them for attempting to choose their own husbands, in an “honour” killing case. After news of the deaths emerged, male politicians from their province Balochistan defended the killings in parliament, claiming the practice was part of “our tribal custom”.This is just one recent story, there are many like this. According to sources, In 2002 alone, over 382 people, about 245 women and 137 men, became victims of honor killings in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Over the course of six years, over 4,000 women have fallen victim to this practice in Pakistan from 1999 to 2004. More recently (in 2005), the average annual number of honor killings for the whole nation ran up to more than 10,000 per year.

Concept of women as property and honor is so deeply entrenched in the social, political and economic fabric of Pakistan that the government, ignores the daily occurrences of women being killed and maimed by their families. Frequently, women murdered in “honour” killings are recorded as having committed suicide or died in accidents. [ Yasmeen Hassan, The Haven Becomes Hell: A Study of Domestic Violence in Pakistan, “The Fate of Pakistani Women”, 1995 August ].

A conference held in May 2005 in Zia Pakistan, addressing the karo-karo issue, and whether Pakistani law, governments and international agencies were having any positive impact in reducing these honor killings in Pakistan. On a positrive side they found, that more cases of honor killings are being reported and more women are having the courage to come forward, but but also found a severe dearth of proper implementation of laws and assurances that men who commit honor killings are not given lighter sentences. The conference found fault with Pakistan’s Zina [extramarital sex] laws that put women in an unfair disadvantage and inferior position, often at the mercy of men to prove her iinnocence.

Just a quick glance over Zina Law in Pakistan: The Zina Ordinance (also referred to as the zina laws) is part of the Hadood Ordinances, promulgated in 1979 by General Zia-ul-Haq, President of Pakistan as a first step towards Islamization. With the adoption of zina laws, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, fornication became a crime against the state and along with adultery, made non-compoundable , non-bailable and punishable by death (HRW 1992:34). Moreover, the legal definition of zina blurs the line between adultery, fornication and rape. For the purpose of the ordinance, zina is defined as “sexual intercourse without being validly married.” Zina-bil-jabr, rape, is defined as “sexual intercourse without being validly married” when it occurs without consent. Legally this means that if it cannot be proved that sex occurred without consent (rape), the sex itself becomes a crime against the state. Although to date no woman convicted under these laws has been stoned to death in Pakistan, zina laws allow for greater control of women within state sanctioned interpretations of the sacred books of Islam.

Obviously, Honour killings are not honourable and – they stem not from religion but practices that discriminate against women because of male superiority. Honour killings are one of the most backward and barbaric things practised in the name of Islam and only makes it an insult to Islam and what it stands for.

Considering the subject not only in Pakistan, but globally it has been part of many writings and films, in the hope to bring some awareness. Writings like “Murder in the name of Hounor” by Rana Husseini, “In Honor of Fadime: Murder and Shame” by Unni Wikan, and “Price of Honor” by Jane Goodwin are many on the subject.

Neither the Veil Nor the Four Walls – is an upcoming film, hoping to tell stories which not only entertain but challenge the status quo in societies. The film is written and directed by Filmmaker-scientist-activist Afia Nathaniel Afia’s short films have garnered critical acclaim at various international and Asian-American festivals including Rotterdam, ReelWorld-Toronto, and Montreal. Her directorial debut Nadah, was nominated for the Golden Reel Award in Los Angeles together with her screenwriting debut of Butterfly. Afia is in development with three film projects. http://www.zambeelfilms.com

The film tell the Story of a young mother Allah Rakhi is married to a much older man Daulat Khan, with whom she has an eight-year-old daughter, Zainab. Daulat Khan is summoned by a local warlord who forces him to agree to an alliance between them by taking Zainab as his bride. On the eve of Zainab’s wedding day, Allah Rakhi pulls off a daring escape with her daughter, and begins the journey to Lahore. Dodging the far-reaching influence of the warlord, and befriending an adventurous truck driver, Sohail, mother and daughter embark on an epic journey through the sweeping landscape of Pakistan, where the search for freedom comes at a price.

More about the film and the team can be seen at http://www.neithertheveilnorthefourwalls.com/film.php

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