By Meher Inayat:
Chilas is the most conservative region in Gilgit, Baltistan in terms of religion and cultural taboos. Unfortunately, most of the customs circulate around women and the laws are formulated against their freedom. I have travelled from Gilgit to Islamabad and Islamabad to Gilgit by road through Chilas several times, but I have never seen a single Chilasi woman in my life. However, the appearance of men in some way depicts the fact that women are being oppressed and are not allowed to go outside. In most serious cases, they’ll go outside by wearing veils that even cover their eyes. I am often forced to think about how pathetic their condition happens to be.
Last week, a terrible incident took place in the region when a man allegedly shot his two step sisters because they were enjoying the rain in this hot summer. A guy took their video secretly when they were playing in the rain. When the footage was circulated in the town, it caused indignation in the region. The elder people started raising objections on the character of these two poor girls. So, their brother ended up shooting them. The question that arises here is, even if the girls were without a duppata and were dancing just in order to have fun; does anyone have had the right to kill them? Obviously, no one has the right to take anyone’s life in this manner. This shows that honour is given more preference in some societies than human life. Also, there is no definite code of honour for women to follow in the conservative societies. At every point, people relate certain actions of women to honour, due to which they are brutally killed. On the other hand, men are free to do whatever they want to do.
It is strange that in this world there are societies which give equal rights to women and then there are societies where women are considered nothing but the upholders of honour of the family, rather, the male members of the family. I have heard several men exclaim, “What else do you girls want? We have already given you freedom.” My reply to all of them is, yes, I am free and I have my rights. This however is not a favour done to me. According to a 2010 report, 1000 women were killed in Pakistan for the sake of honour; 5000 being the global number. This shows that 20% of the women were killed in Pakistan. Also, there were cases which were not reported; otherwise, the ratio might have gotten higher. Honour killing is so common in Pakistan that the country has failed to provide equal rights to women.
Until and unless, people stop relating family honour with women, these incidents will keep happening in the future. And, women will continue to be killed for crimes they have not committed. On the other hand, law governing bodies never take any solid step against violence against women. Most of the time, families don’t take such cases to the police because that will be Â going against the family honour. Or, they say that the girl was their daughter and no one has the right to say anything for what they do with their daughters. The worst part of the story is when female members of the society agree with the male members and accept honour killing wholeheartedly.
It is time for us to stand against such injustice and provide education to the people, especially to the females. As when they are educated, they will automatically know their rights. We are individuals and not anybody’s property.