14 February 2023
By Xari Jalil
Not many can avoid the vibrant marketing for Valentine’s Day. Heart-shaped balloons and red roses being sold in every corner. Shops are stocked with a fresh batch of greeting cards, and gift stores thrive on sales. Most of those who buy are young and newly married. In a society where romance is seen in a bad light, they try and break through and express their emotions through these.
But not everyone is so lucky. For so many others ‘love’ is not about red roses and hearts. Instead, their love has been tainted with pain, loneliness, and even death. For example, 27-year-old Rukhsana Rind was invited to her family home in zila Sarhari (Sanghar) on March 3, 2022 after a long period of being ignored by her parents. Rukhsana had married 30-year-old Farooq Brohi of her own free will, someone her parents refused to accept. But when she was invited for reconciliation to her parents’ home, she was overjoyed. She and her husband wanted peace and she was sure with her baby girl showing everyone, their hearts would melt.
But when she reached there, not only was her parents’ home empty and desolate – only the barren mud walls remained, but before she could even enter the house, an axe landed on her head, making her crumple to the ground in a heap. Her husband was not spared either. Men from the Rind family – including her father and brother – first axed the couple brutally, then shot them. After that, they fled from the house without leaving a trace behind. The bodies of the young husband and wife were mutilated beyond recognition, their eight-month-old infant daughter – now forever without her parents, but thankfully unwounded. Ultimately it was her constant crying that alerted the neighbours.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) over 470 cases of honor killings were reported in Pakistan in 2021, but the estimated numbers are much higher as several cases go unreported. Human rights defenders estimate that around 1,000 women are killed in the name of honor every year.
In Sindh, in the first six months of 2021 the number of men and women who have been killed for so-called honour, has jumped by 27 percent in Sindh as compared to the same period last year. According to statistics released by Sindh police from January to June 31, the total number of men and women killed over Karo Kari was 83 out of which 67 victims were women and 17 were male. Last year, 51 women and 14 lost their lives in Karo Kari killings in the six-month period.
Victims of so-called honour killings are thought to have brought shame and dishonor to their relatives. Since 2021 plagued with misery, Mukhtiar Hussain has been fighting a case in court, which is still under trial, to bring justice to his murdered wife and son. He will never forget the day he found them, hugging each other in their grave. They had been buried by his wife Aimen’s brothers while they had been alive. “I dug out my wife and child’s bodies myself so I could burn in my memory what (Awais and Farooq) had done to them,” Mukhtiar had told Voicepk.net.
History of Legislation
In 2004, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the Honor Killing Act, which made any killing in the name of honor a punishable crime. But the law came with a loophole; it was passed as part of Section 302(c) in the criminal law (amendment) of the Pakistan Penal Code, which gives relatives of the victim the right to forgive the convict through an Islamic legal practice.