By Ankur Sohanpal:
The slaying of 4 women and a teenage girl for ‘dancing’ with unrelated men in the UC Peech Bela, Palas tehsil, Kohistan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan has been much in the news recently within the country as well in sensitized online journals, and is being called the case of ‘honour killing’. According to me, the first if justified in its existence, but the second is not justified in the way it has been named – there is no honour in killing women on bogus fatwas.
I did watch the video – it showed four women, well clad in clothes with only their faces visible, clapping and singing for the two brothers – and nothing more. I am not aware of how many laws of Islam they broke, according to old, tribal leaders of Jirga systems, and frankly, I care little. But I do say this – shooting the women in cold blood was monstrous, and did not adhere to the views of any sort of religious legal system, by way of principle.
The tribal elders of the Jirga system are men with the mental equivalence of a level that would make the typical barbarians of the distant past seem sophisticated. At least they weren’t misogynists. These are also men who realize that they are an endangered species – with hardly anyone making the effort to conserve their existence. Moreover, they are aware of the power they hold in their hands – the almighty call to Islam. One word from them and people will kill their own daughters, men will kill a young girl for not ratting out on these four women. And if things go as planned, no one will question their decision. Add these facts together and you will arrive at the core of the problem.
The relationship between religion and women has been ambiguous since the very beginning. Rules and laws regarding behaviour and attire in public vary according to countries, but nowhere in the world are laws as stringent and punishments as ruthless as in the area in Pakistan that leads up to Afghanistan. Women who have been traditionally forced to forego access to education, economic opportunities and personal freedom on the basis of varying interpretations of religion are the most obvious targets of people who are frustrated with the decline of their era of absolute power, and will stop at nothing when it comes to ruthlessness. If children were to be subjugated instead of women, there is no doubt in my mind about the various ways some of these men would find to ensure terror and obeisance by periodically killing a few now and then.
I have come across several studies that indicate that the all-round development of women in society – nutritional, educational and economic, is imperative for the economic and intellectual growth of the community. Which makes me ask this question – are the women in the society – theirs as well as ours, so easily expendable, that they are easily made the victims of hate crimes under the façade of religion?
In a world not marked by country borders, the women murdered are my innocent fellow citizens, and I wish their unnecessary death could have been avoided. To work towards a future where incidents like these will be more obviously outrageous to the public which stands silently accepting them, sensitizing and educating the public is the need of the hour. How we, as the youth of this world will walk down the path of achieving this, is something we will have to collectively figure out.