January 11, 2023
By Shahzad Naveed
Gul Meena* belongs to the Matta Tehsil of Swat and is around 22 years of age. But ever since her younger sister Farzana* was killed a few months ago, on pretext of family honour, she has been scared of ever interactng with men in case she too becomes a victim. Now she cannot even look at a man from a distance, let alone talk to him.
Farzana had been a first-year student and wanted to get married though she failed to convince her parents and brothers. Her brothers were afraid that she might register a court marriage and so they killed her. It was known in the area that Farzana had been sufffering from cancer since some time, so it was not difficult for her father and brothers to murder her by poisoning her tea. The family lied to the neighbours saying she had died because of the cancer, to protect the brothers and father from any legal action.
In the last few years, there have been several incidents of ‘honour’ killings in Swat, in which many people lost their lives, but the majority of those killed were women. According to a non-governmental organization “The Awakening”, 229 people were killed in the name of ‘honour’ in Swat in the last seven years. According to the report, 211 women and 18 men are among the dead.
According to The Awakening, since 2012, they have been working on cases of domestic disputes, honor killings, sexual violence and suicides in Swat. The Awakening collects data on these incidents from its members, police, newspapers, journalists and lawyers.
A 25-year-old youth from Babuzai area of Mingora Tehsil, the main city of Swat, said on condition of anonymity that in 2019, he had a court marriage with a girl of his choice and both of them were living happily.
“It has been three years now since we were married, but till today we are forced to live outside Swat. We have come to know through a friend that the girl’s parents are still looking for us to meet and kill us both,” he said. “In Malakand division including Swat, marriage of choice is not considered good even though Islam allows us this choice. I wonder when we will understand this truth.”
Why kill in the name of ‘honor’?
Honor killing is the killing of a member or members of a family, usually by a member or members of the same family. , has brought dishonor or shame to the family or has rebelled against family traditions. Common reasons for this killing include marriage of choice, divorce, separation, refusal of forced marriage, desire to marry outside the family, illicit sex or sexual assault.
“The history of honor killing is not a few hundred years old, but centuries. Since ancient Roman times, there is a history of killing women in the name of honor.”
Why are incidents not reported?
Irfan Hussain Babak, executive director of The Awakening, says that most of the men and women who are killed in the name of honor are poisoned, later such incidents are given the color of suicide. These incidents mostly take place in Swat Tehsils Charbagh, Matta, Khawaza Khela, and remote areas of Tehsil Kabal.
According to the human rights organization “The Awakening”, 53 people have been killed in the name of honor in 2016, 50 in 2017, 32 in 2018, 32 in 2019, 29 in 2020, 18 in 2021, and 15 in 2022. Including 211 women and 18 men.
Every year The Awakening reports cases of violence and honor killings from various regions and provides financial support as well as legal support to the victim’s family. Most people come to him with their own problems.
Irfan Hassan Babak further said that The Awakening has created special family courts in which we deal with cases of ‘honour’ killings, mistreatment of women, domestic violence, non-inheritance, divorce, mental harmony, and underage. I solve marriage and other household problems like impotence. To prevent this, the elders of the area, human rights organizations, and above all social workers can play an important role. Together with them, these problems can be overcome.
The opinion of the common people is very important in legislation because legislation is for the common people until the government is informed about the real problems of the people, until then it is not possible to make effective laws.
According to Irfan Hussain Babak, so far he has reported 228 cases in seven years and so far 80 percent of the criminals have been legally sentenced, but sometimes it also happens that after the court sentences the accused. Affected persons get a consent form.
According to Irfan Hussain Babak: It is not easy to work on violence, honor killings, and incidents. We have been working in various districts of the Malakand division including Swat since 2012. We also face severe difficulties. These incidents are always between two families, so most people threaten our members and lawyers. Campaigns are also launched against us in various areas including Swat because everyone knows that it is difficult to work here because of the Pashtun culture but we will continue to fight for human rights and intolerance.
COVID-19 & VAW
According to the survey report of The Awakening in 2020, during the coronavirus, people were confined to their homes, and because of this, in incidents of violence against women.