Sohnan stares into space, while her brother looks at her
4 year old Sohnan stares off into space, while her brother Tauheed looks at her.

Three women killed for honour in 24 hours in Khairpur

By Xari Jalil

Four year old Sohnan seems to have retracted into her shell as she watches people pass by, busy in the preparations of the funeral. Her little brother, only one and a half year old, sticks close by his sister, not knowing any better. Their eyes are childlike and pure, but behind the naïveté is an underlying sadness, two black holes of pain they will probably never be able to overcome.

Video report by Shafiq Shar and Ahmad Saeed from Khairpur, Sindh

The lives of the Sohnan and Tauhid took a dark and drastic turn when they saw their father kill their mother. It was done in broad daylight, and within the confines of their home, a small shack in the remote town of Kot Lalu, in Khairpur.

Tufail Majeedano blamed his wife Nasreen of having an extra marital affair. But there was no trial nor a jury to decide whether his allegation was true or false. Nor were Nasreen’s pleas heard by him. Grabbing hold of an axe, Majeedano hacked his wife to death, while the children watched. Then without a hair out of place, he left the house and presumably went into hiding.

Nasreen’s bloody and mutilated body lay on the floor of their home for around eight hours, with the children in the house – until someone discovered the scene of horror.

Nasreen’s father Akram says that despite it being a gruesome murder, the police had not cooperated with them at all. Instead of speeding up the investigation procedure the police officers were now demanding money only to file FIRs.

Luckily for the children, Nasreen’s mother Sameena has taken the responsibility of their upbringing.

She says that there had been absolutely no reason to kill her daughter. “My daughter was completely innocent and has been killed for no real reason,” she says.

At least Nasreen’s two children have their grandparents to go to.

On that same fateful day, in Khairpur’s locality of Goth Allah Daad Kandhro, Shaahil Kandhro, who was seven months pregnant, was also declared a kari by her husband and was mercilessly beheaded by him.

Her five children have been made to stay with their father – a vicious murderer?

Both of Shahil’s parents are disabled. They are too incapacitated to adopt the children. But they are angry and sad at the murderer and the whole system. They say the murderer has links with influential which is why the police was not even registering an FIR against him.

STARTLING NUMBERS

Only in 2019, there was a shockingly high number of cases of honour killing in Sindh. The police itself had compiled a report, recording statistics from January 31, 2019 to January 30, 2020. In total 108 women had been killed and were

According to the report, till the end of January, 126 people were arrested, who were suspected of being involved in such ‘honour’ killings.

While the police reports (challans) of 81 honour killing cases were presented in the courts, 73 cases were being heard and three have been thrown out.

Thirty two (32) other cases are still being investigated.

In Sindh, a murder under the alleged pretext of honour is also known as ‘karo-kari’, with the karo being the male and kari being the woman who has had an extra- or pre-marital relationship with someone. In particular the upper districts in Sindh, have become a hub of such killings.

In January 2020, 22 incidents of karo-kari cases were reported out of which 19 cases occurred in upper Sindh. A total of 13 women and five men were killed, while three women and three men were injured in the aforementioned incidents. The common point is, that honour killing seems to be more rampant where feudalism and other power structures continue to form such power centres where a woman is not allowed to be as free as she wants.

Regional newspapers report on the issue, but honour killings do not always make the headlines.

LEGAL MATTERS

In October 2016, a new anti-honour killing bill was passed by the joint session of the parliament. The legislation on honour killings sought to introduce stricter punishment for the convicts making it tougher than the ordinary murder cases. The new law, includes not just harsher punishments but it also somewhat dealt with a lacuna which allowing legal the family to pardon the perpetrators who are usually also a relative.

Also the victim’s family would only be able to pardon the killer if he is sentenced to capital punishment. However, the culprit would still face a mandatory life sentence of twelve-and-a-half years.

But legal experts say that after killing a relative in the name of honour, a person may even change his declaration of it being in the name of honour, rather they could term it a simple murder to avoid the punishment.

This could be problematic.

If a man claims that the murder had nothing to do with being an honour killing, he will be charged under Section 302 of the PPC but under the Section 392 PPC the family members of the deceased could also forgive him.

THE CHILDREN SUFFER MOST

Like Nasreen, Gulzari too was axed to death, leaving behind seven children and no one to take care of them.  Their mother’s family is in Baluchistan and cannot travel to Khairpur’s dusty town yet. The children remain with their father’s side of the family.

Much like the other cases, the police has not filed any FIR. But they have also not have they tried to arrest the husband.

The police on the other hand did not give any explanations for these allegations. Khairpur police told Voicepk.net, they refused to say anything about these cases.

Shehnaz Sheikh from a women;s rights NGO in in Khairpur says that in karo kari cases, the police occasionally does not file any cases, nor does it cooperate with the victim’s family.

It is indeed a grim and startling situation, if three women are killed brutally on the same day for ‘karo kari’ and at the same time the police has turned a blind eye to them. This speaks volumes about how the police and subsequently the State is dealing with serious issues related to women’s rights.