Honor killing in Dadu: How Karo-Kari became cultural norm in Sindh?

A minor girl was stoned to death after a Jirga ordered her family to kill their daughter in the prescribed way and manner. Is there any solution to Sindh’s Karo-Kari problem?

honor killing

Another case of honor killing has been registered in Dadu, Sindh. Taking note of the honor killing of a minor girl in Dadu, Sindh Inspector General of Police Syed Kaleem Imam has sought a report into the matter. Human rights activists are demanding swift action against the culprits.

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According to reports, the IGP directed Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Dadu to submit details of the incident while also calling on him to take swift action against the culprit(s).

The incident occurred on November 21 in Johi, a small town in Dadu, where an 11-year-old girl was stoned to death in the name of honor and was later secretly buried.

The police responded to the reports and arrested the victim’s parents along with two abettors. A case was also registered with the Dadu police. According to the FIR, the girl’s father, and her four brothers along with another relative had “hatched a conspiracy for the murder of the girl and killed her by stone-pelting”. They then bought a shroud and buried her near Lak graveyard.

Read more: Honor killings: Pakistan’s continuing shame

Police have registered an FIR against six persons – Ali Nawaz, son of Shahnawaz Rind, Sami, son of Wahid Bux Rind, and four unidentified persons – on the basis of information collected so far. Leghari is also implicated in the case for allegedly hiding the crime.

A Case of Karo-Kari

Sources claim that this murder is a case of Karo-Kari which is premeditated honor killing widely practiced in rural and tribal areas of Sindh. Any men or women involved in pre-marital or extra-marital relation is considered the enemy of the collective conscience and the concerned family is expected to take the life of the person in order to restore the honor or reputation.

Official statistics reveal that from January to June 2019, there have been 78 cases of honor killing. Some cases have been registered but in many cases, investigations are pending due to cultural as well as structural challenges.

The Inspector General-Sindh, Dr. Kaleem Imam, has been placing a special focus on the practice of Karo-Kari and taking all possible measures to ensure the safety of vulnerable segments of the society.

Tribes use females from economically underprivileged families to target their rivals. The one who is blamed for having illicit relationship with a woman has to pay money and immediately leave the area

He also reportedly directed the officials concerned to ensure that there must not be any loophole left in the investigations and the same was also adequately pursued before courts.

However, police generally find it difficult to investigate such cases due to cultural reasons. “Honor killing is a social problem and has its roots in the tribal culture and a mindset where women are seen as subservient to men,” said DIG-Headquarters Abdul Khaliq Shaikh.

GVS approached Ms. Asma Yunus, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Sargodha, and asked her about the context in which Karo-Kari takes place. She thinks that,

“Karo Kari is driven by a complex interplay of factors like patriarchy, feudal culture, complicit role of the state institutions and law enforcement agencies, and a web of vested sociopolitical interests”. While pointing out the role of education to maintain the status quo, Ms. Asma says “our social structure especially educational institutes are highly dominated by patriarchy and every component of education, from the syllabus to the academic environment, corresponds with the old age customs and traditions of patriarchy”.

Read more: Karo-Kari in Sindh: A Practice Related to Honor That Has No Honor in itself

In contemporary rural Sindh, argues G-M Pitafi, Lecturer at the University of Management and Technology, Karo-Kari has become a tool for economic exploitation of the rival. “Tribes use females from economically underprivileged families to target their rivals. The one who is blamed for having an illicit relationship with a woman has to pay money and immediately leave the area,” he said.

In some cases, it goes out of control and leads to the killing of both man and woman, he added. Local administration along with leaders of the tribes is, argues Mr. Pitafi, a part of the entire process. Therefore, these cases are on the rise.

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