Pakistan: Five women allegedly buried alive
The Umrani tribe is mainly concentrated in the Jafarabad and Naseerabad districts of Balochistan provice that are about 300 kilometers from Quetta city, the provincial capital. Mr. Sadiq Umrani, the provincial minister for housing and construction, was elected to the Balochistan Assembly in the February 18, 2008 elections from Dera the Murad Jamali constituency of district Naseerabad.
The incident of the women being buried alive occurred in a remote village, the Baba Kot, 80 kilometers away from Usta Mohammad city of Jafferabad district. It is believed that due to the influence of the minister and his brother the incident was not reported in the media.
According to the information received, five women were Ms. Fatima, wife of Umeed Ali Umrani, Jannat Bibi, wife of Qaiser Khan, Fauzia, daughter of Ata Mohammad Umrani, and two other girls, aged between 16 to 18 years. They were at the house of Mr. Chandio at Baba Kot village and to leave for a civil court at Usta Mohammad, district Jafarabad, so that three of the girls could marry the men of their choice. Their decision to have marriage in court was the result of several days of discussions with the elders of the tribe who refused them permission to marry. The names of two younger girls were not ascertained because of strong control of tribal leaders in the area.
As the news of their plans leaked out, Mr. Abdul Sattar Umrani, a brother of the minister, came with more than six persons and abducted them at gun points. They were taken in a Land Cruiser jeep, bearing a registration number plate of the Balochistan government, to another remote area, Nau Abadi, in the vicinity of Baba Kot. After reaching the deserted area of Nau Abadi, Abdul Sattar Umrani and his six companions took the three younger women out of the jeep and beat them before allegedly opening fire with their guns. The girls were seriously injured but were still alive at that moment. Sattar Umrani and his accomplices hurled them into a wide ditch and covered them with earth and stones. The two older women were an aunt of Fauzia and the other, the mother of one minor. When they protested and tried to stop the burial of the minors that were plainly alive, the attackers were so angry that they also pushed them into the ditch and buried all alive. After completing the burial, they fired several shots into to the air so that no one would come close.
The minors were educated and were studying in classes from 10 to 12. They were punished for trying to decide about their marriages.
After one month the police have still not registered the case and it is difficult to get more detailed information. The provincial minister is so powerful that police are reluctant to provide details on the murder. When the AHRC contacted Mr. Sadiq Umrani, provincial minister, he 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.
The alleged perpetrator, Mr. Abdul Sattar Umrani, the brother of the provincial minister, was also involved in murder of three persons, including one young woman, in January 2006. That case was similar in that a school teacher, Mr. Mohammad Aslam, was going with his lover in a taxi to a civil court to court marry. The perpetrators stopped them at Manjo Shori, sub district Tumboo, District Naseerabad and killed all three persons by gun fire. The dead included the taxi driver, Mr. Jabal Aidee. The police were unable to institute a murder case for five months until the intervention of Mr. Iftekhar Choudhry, the deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and also the deputy speaker of Senate. But only one person was arrested and the perpetrator Abdul Sattar Umrani remained at large.
Every year in Pakistan hundreds of women, of all ages and in all parts of the country, are reported killed in the name of honour. Many more cases go unreported. Almost all go unpunished. The lives of millions of women in Pakistan are circumscribed by traditions, which enforce extreme seclusion and submission to men many of whom impose their virtually proprietarily control over women with violence. For the most part, women bear the traditional male control over every aspect of their bodies, speech and behaviour with stoicism, as part of their kismat (fate), but exposure to media, the work of women's rights groups and the greater degree of mobility have seen the beginnings of women's rights awareness seep into the secluded world of women.
But if women begin to exert these rights, however tentatively, they often face more repression and punishment: the curve of honour killings has increased parallel to the rise in the awareness in rights. State indifference, discriminatory laws and the gender bias of much of the country's police force and judiciary have ensured virtual impunity for perpetuators of honour killings. It is paradoxical that women who enjoy such a poor status in society and have no standing in family should become a focal point of a false and primitive concept of family honour, which they are accepted to uphold at the expense of their inclinations and preference in the matters of marriage. [Honour Killings in Pakistan by Neshay Najam]
Originally a Baluch and Pashtun 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.
11 August 2008
Source: Asian Human Rights Commission: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2008/2969 (Website Link includes AHRC Appeal Suggested Actions)
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- Factsheet: Violence Against Women - the Missing MDG?
- Child, Early and Forced Marriage: A Multi-Country Study.