Today’s doom and gloom newspaper report on Pakistan reminded me of General Napier’s famous quote on the subcontinental custom of burning widows alive with their husband’s body, back when the British banned it:
bq. You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.
The ban on burning women alive, often against their will, was challenged in both Indian and British courts, and I think General Napeir’s quote best sums up what came of that.
A important legal aspect of the Sati law: *The law now makes no distinction between passive observers to the act, and active promoters of the event; all are supposed to be held equally culpable.*
Senator Sardar Israrullah Zehri, along with many other Senators are liable for murder – Sati was abolished in Pakistan back in 1829 under British colonial rule. Burying is not that much different from burning… the Sati laws is still on the books, since we inherited all the old colonial laws, and the Senator should be tried under it.
“Dawn: Burying of women alive defended in Senate”:http://www.dawn.com/2008/08/30/top4.htm
bq.. Balochistan Senator Sardar Israrullah Zehri stunned the upper house on Friday when he defended the recent incident of burying alive three teenage girls and two women in his province, saying it was part of “our tribal custom.”
Senator Bibi Yasmin Shah of the PML-Q raised the issue citing a newspaper report that the girls, three of them aged between 16 and 18 years, had been buried alive a month ago for wishing to marry of their own will.
The barbaric incident took place in a remote village of Jafarabad district and a PPP minister and some other influential people were reported to have been involved. The report accused the provincial government of trying to hush up the issue.
Ms Shah said that the hapless girls and the women were first shot in the name of honour and then buried while they were alive. She also said that no criminal had been arrested so far.
Acting Chairman of Senate Jan Mohammad Jamali, who was presiding over the session, said: “Yasmin Shah should go to our society and see for herself what the situation is like there and then come back to raise such questions in the house.”
p. In Pakistan, you can kill women for a number of reasons besides them wanting to marry against their will, and much of the Senators and Ministers would willingly award you a medal for it. Some of the following excuses have been given (actually) by politicians, feudal lords, and elected senators in Pakistan:
* She looked at another man!
* A man looked at her, and I didn’t like his face
* She went shopping without a chaperon
* She had a child
* I threw acid on her face cause I felt like it and she had the audacity to go to court about it so I killed her
* She was too good looking.
* She didn’t cook well enough
The list is very long, basically the way the system works is that everyone from the govt. on down will cover for you for murder, especially if it’s a woman.
Murder is murder, and condoning it is even worse. The Senate chairman’s statement is sickening, in essence saying _this is how things are done here and I can’t be bothered to do a damn thing about it._
bq. Leader of the House Mian Raza Rabbani said: “We condemn the heinous act and assure the house that a complete report on the incident would be submitted on Monday.”
Many times the house has condemned numerous heinous acts, often times committed by members of the house or by people under their control and influence, but rarely does the punishment fit the crime, or the report ever get submitted. We will see what Monday brings.
h4. A few days later
The report was never submitted in the Senate, and the Senator continues on with his job like nothing ever happened. Ironically, Mir Israr Ullah Zehri is part of the Standing Committee on Planning and Development and Population Welfare. Now that a few thousand newspapers have covered the story, the police have been mobilized.
The following sums up the government’s attitude:
bq. Acting chairman of Senate Jan Mohammad Jamali, who appeared perturbed over what he called ‘out of proportion’ coverage to the incident, said: “It is not a matter of mere sloganeering. It pertained to five women. The media gave the matter such a colour as if heavens have fallen.”
The “news about how the investigation is proceeding”:http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=16992 confirms that the govt. is not interested in doing anything about the case.