Pakistan: Four women allegedly murdered under the pretext of 'honour'
The incident was immediately reported to the local police but no arrest was made so far. Even though AHRC has repeatedly issued several honor killing cases, the Sindh provincial government as well as the Government of Pakistan has not taken any serious action to abolish this brutal practice. Your urgent action is required to have the case rightly brought before the Anti-Terrorism Court and to pressure the local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the case as well as to quickly arrest the perpetrators. Please also call for the government of Pakistan, especially the state government of Sindh to take strong and decisive action to eliminate honor killings once and for all.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) was informed by the Human Rights Education Forum (HREF), a local human rights organization in Sindh province, that four women of the same family were brutally killed by nine relatives on the pretext of honor killings on 29 November 2006. The four killed women are Ms. Sahzadi (35), the wife of Mr. Muhammad Ramzan, Ms. Safia (22), the wife of Mr. Bashir Ahmed, Ms. Naseema (30), the wife of Gul Bahar and daughter of Mr. Shafi Muhammad and Ms. Naseema (27), the daughter of Ayob (unmarried). The man wounded is Mr. Manthar (25). All of them are of Mahar tribe and siblings each other residing Abdu village, Lakhi Ghulam Shah town, Shikarpur district, Sindh Province, Pakistan.
The fact-finding team of the HREF discovered that the real number of perpetrators is fifteen; the remaining six persons, unnamed here and elsewhere, are so influential within the community that the complainant, the villagers, and the police alike dare not openly point them out.
According to Mr. Gul Bahar, the husband of Ms. Naseema and brother of all the other victims, on the morning of 29 November 2006, his sister Ms. Safia came to his home on a usual visit to see her parents. All the victims and the witnesses including Mr. Gul Bahar were thereby together in the home having breakfast.
At around 9:00am, suddenly armed men including Mr. Shafi Muhammad, the father of Ms. Naseema, Mr. Bashir Ahmed, the husband of Ms. Safia, Mr. Ghulam Qadir, the cousin of the victims, and relatives of the victims namely Mr. Hazoor Bux, Mr. Nazeer Ahmed, Mr. Dadoo Pandhi, Mr. Javed, Mr. Ali Hassan and Mr. Noor Hassan broke into the house and began abusing the women victims, accusing them of having had illicit relations with the persons from the adjacent Village Noro. The alleged perpetrators claimed that the victims have brought shame to not only family members but the whole community. Then they instructed Mr. Gul Bahar to kill the victims as they belong to his family. Mr. Gul Bahar refused and pleaded on behalf of his wife and his sisters, whereupon the alleged perpetrators became infuriated and began abusing him.
Thereafter, Mr. Bashir Ahmed together with Ghulam Qadir fired upon his wife Ms. Safia, both with single barrel guns, and she fell to the ground. Mr. Hazoor Bux and Mr. Nazeer Ahmed also fired upon their relative Ms. Sahzadi, who is mother of eight children, with single barrel guns, and she fell to the ground. Mr. Javed and Mr. Ali Hassan, one with a single barrel and one with a double barrel gun, fired upon their relative Ms. Naseema (unmarried), who fell to the ground. Mr. Dadoo Pandhi also fired upon Mr. Gul Bahar's wife Ms. Naseema with his gun.
Seeing his three sisters and one sister-in-law quavering on the ground, Mr. Gul Bahar's brother Mr. Manthar moved to fight the alleged perpetrators, whereupon Mr. Noor Hassan fired upon him with an automatic rifle; Manthar also fell to the ground.
All of the alleged perpetrators then departed the scene, firing indiscriminately. Meanwhile, the sounds of bullets drew the villagers to the house, but none could prevent the perpetrators who held weapons in their hands. After the perpetrators fled, Mr. Gul Bahar and the villagers saw that Ms. Sahzadi incurred injuries on her stomach, left hand, right breast, right side of her back, and skull so that her brain was spilling out; Ms. Safia incurred injuries on her right breast; Ms. Naseema incurred injuries on her backbone and left cheek; another Ms. Naseema (unmarried) incurred injuries on the left side of her stomach, left breast, left cheek, left hand and left arm muscles. All were bleeding profusely and died. Mr. Gul Bahar also saw that his brother Mr. Manthar incurred juries on his right leg.
According to the fact-finding investigation carried out by the HREF, the victims were innocent and had not been involved in illicit sexual relations with anybody. However, according to Mr. Gul Bahar, a month before the killings, the women victims had gone to the adjacent city of Sukkur to shop; there, a Sub Inspector of the same tribe, named Mr. Masood Rasool Mahar, allegedly arrested and snapped pornographic photographs of them. Afterward, the said Sub Inspector allegedly blackmailed Mr. Shafi Muhammad, one of the perpetrators, with these photographs. It is reported that Mr. Shafi Muhammad hence told the father of the women victims to kill them, but the latter had refused to do so. On the morning of 29 November 2006, Mr. Shafi Muhammad found an opportunity to kill the women because most of the males of the family were out of home. Mr. Shafi Muhammad told the media and the HREF staff that he and his accomplices had to prevent the honor of their family from collapsing.
At around 11:30am on the same day, Mr. Gul Bahar appeared before the Station House Officer (SHO) of the Chak police station and lodged the First Information Report (FIR) No.39/06 against the alleged perpetrators under sections 302, 324, 148 & 149 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The father of four of the victims told the HREF that they had nominated 16 persons in the FIR but the police shortened the list to only 8 persons. Ironically the main suspect Mr. Shafi Muhammad was not mentioned in the FIR. No arrest has been made thus far.
The case is to be brought before the Court of First Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate of the Shikarpur District, but the HREF and other civil society organizations are pushing to have it heard at the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), which will rule judiciously in favor of the victims and their family. To this effect, the HREF has mobilized NGOs to protest against this brutal honour killings on the International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2006. Still, greater international pressure is needed.
Though the National Assembly of Pakistan has passed the Women's Protection Ordinance 2006, which may prove as a strong mechanism to tackle this case, there still exist some technical deficiencies, which may profit the perpetrators. For example, there is a provision for a compromise between the concerned parties in the current ordinance under which cases may be dropped, if parties reach compromise. The same situation occurred under the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance in which cases were dropped due to so-called compromise, often unwillingly agreed upon by the complainant due to feudal pressures. This is why the civil society organizations are rallying to have the case brought before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC).
The practice of honour killings continues to occur with alarming frequency in Pakistan, mainly in Sindh Province. Honor killings often occur on the pretext of maintaining honor. The male relatives who commit the murders are rarely prosecuted in traditional communities. It appears that any action, real or fabricated, if deemed by the family as compromising their honor, may be considered a valid reason to commit murder. While illegal according to national laws and inconsistent with Islamic doctrine in both the Koran and Sharia, the lack of consistent positive action by Pakistani law enforcement agencies and the seemingly commonplace belief in the practice of honor killings, facilitate this inhuman practice.
The AHRC requires the local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into this murder. We ask you to send a letter or make a phone call to the Regional Police Officer (RPD), Sukkur and officer of the DPO Investigation Department - Shikarpur District and demand speedy and thorough investigation of this case. The contact information of these officers is given below. AHRC also requests the above case to be taken before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC). Please support us in making this request.