June 18th, 2020

By Jaffar Khan Kakar 


QUETTA

In a tragic incident a 32 year old woman Hajra Bibi, who was a native of the northern Baluchistan district Qila Saifullah (Muslimbagh) was tortured to death by her husband Muhammad Sadiq and his brother Inamul Haq over a domestic dispute.

According to Muhammad Ali, a cousin of the slain Hajira Bibi she had been married for 13 years and the scuffles over petty issues had always been there between her and her husband. She had also been molested both physically and mentally several times before.

Ali said she was a mother of four children and had been six months pregnant at the time the incident occurred.

“She was attacked with a knife, an iron rod and some other sharp edged instrument,” he said adding that no part of her body was left unharmed. “Her bones were broken too.” He said that Hajira had not been allowed to visit her father’s house since the past six years, because of her husband’s cruelty. “He stopped her without any reason, and threatened her with dire consequences if she dared to go,” he said.

Ali requested Chief Minister Jam Kamal, Chief Justice Baluchistan High Court Justice Jamal khan Mandokhail, and IG Baluchistan to help his family in getting justice and arrest the accused as soon as possible.

Murder Raises Questions Over Status Of Women

Meanwhile civil society members and social media activists condemned the act and termed it one where extreme barbarism and a misogyny was displayed by the perpetrators.

Locals says this is the second murder in two weeks, the first being the murder of a woman named Farzana in Awaran, after she refused to marry a suitor. However the case never made it to the police or media. A letter from the Superintendent of Police Awaran stated that since she was buried, a case has been lodged by the police under Section 157/2, and has constituted a probe team.

In Hajira’s case, activists say that the culprits must be arrested and then held accountable and given exemplary punishment so that there is some response to this type of criminal act. They stressed upon human rights organizations and government to ensure solid implementation of laws curbing violence against women, abuse and sexual assault.

Women Democratic Front (WDF) Baluchistan chapter in a tweet demanded justice for the aggrieved family and condemned the brutal killing of Hajira Bibi. They urged the concerned authority to immediately arrest the culprits and said that the price of a woman’s life was so cheap that anyone could flush it away like water to confront their fragile masculinity.

Advocate Jalila Haider, Baluchistan president of the WDF said that the current incident that happened in Muslimbagh was not new though this kind of crime had been reported in the past too. “Women don’t contribute economically in home affairs that is another reason of violence,” she said. “Domestic violence is considered a personal affair, but we need to criminalize the violence against women even inside their own homes. Otherwise it will impact the whole of society if we fail to stop violence against women.”

Another Baloch women’s group called ‘Raaji’s – Baloch Women Forum’ posted online that they strongly condemn the incident of Muslim Bagh and demand justice for Bibi Hajira. “We Raaji’s reject such violence in the name of masculinity (over women) and we demand immediate arrest of culprits,” they stated.

Meanwhile Senator Usman Kakar said that women in backward areas were always deprived of their basic rights. “This kind of tragic incident is the cause of lack of education and lack of awareness and a patriarchal approach which has terms women as lesser entities,” said Kakar. He added that until and unless society does not empower women both economically and politically it will be confronting with such cases in future too. “The court must resolve these cases of domestic violence on an emergency basis,” he said.

Otherwise not one law maker has taken notice of this killing, or even condemned it.

Abuse Under Lockdown

This is in spite of the fact that the Human Rights Ministry of Pakistan has recognized the fact that Violence against Women (VAW) has increased during lockdown – especially in a country like Pakistan where there has been decades of under-reporting.

Financial constraints and stress deepen abuse, but there are no services around the country as such to help the survivors of domestic violence. Only one helpline of the Federal Ministry of Human Rights (1099) works from 10 am to 10 pm.

A detailed list of the ‘Types of Abuse’ are given here.

According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2012-2013 a staggering 32 percent of women have experienced physical violence in Pakistan and 40 percent of ever-married women have suffered from spousal abuse at some point in their life. But these statistics do not accurately represent the full extent of cases. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) one in two Pakistani women who have experienced violence never sought help or told anyone about the violence they had experienced.

Qamar un Nisa Advocate Council member of HRCP Baluchistan said women are considered a personal property in our society.

“It is men who decide and control all affairs of women, our norms, values and culture don’t allow women to be empowered enough to decide her own fate,” she said. “We need to root out this mindset collectively, and civil society, law enforcement agencies and the court must play their roles and investigate the matter and punish the culprits.”

Investigation

Meanwhile the District Police Officer (DPO) Attaullah Shah has said that an FIR has been lodged against the accused M. Sadiq who is the husband of Hajira Bibi and her brother in law Inamul Haq. Earlier Muhammad Rafiq Qaisrani, the SHO Muslim Bagh had informed media that blunt weapons were used for the murder.

The police has raided three spots till now, but not succeeded as yet in any arrests. He assured the grieving family that the absconders will be arrested and punished soon as per law.

 

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