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Millennium Post

Pak women still pawns

Pak women still pawns
At a time, when the whole world is unanimously agreeing to safeguard the dignity of women, Pakistan has many reasons to kill them. Killing a woman for marrying out of her free will, talking to a boy, or just for dressing as she pleases will no longer satisfy the bloodlust of self-appointed judges of the Kangaroo tribal courts, better known as 'Jirga'. Even a woman who dares to help her friend escape her village will meet the same cruel end. The ambit of what triggers a community to kill one of its members is getting wider and ghastlier. More often than not, the crimes these communities commit go unpunished because the rule of law and the safeguards offered by a caring state are absent in Pakistan. In fact, barbarism has become synonymous with jirgas, a traditional form of justice that blends tribal and Islamic customs with the whims of the participants. Despite the existence of a law passed in 2011 that allows the police to arrest members of jirgas suspected of "anti-women" practices, grotesque abuses continue unabated. And, the government has decided to integrate them into the formal justice system, instead of trying to stamp them out. Surprisingly, the self-styled tribal council got a parliamentary approval – with a massive 318 votes out of 342 in the National Assembly; for a law that gives their rulings force, subject to certain reforms the government would appoint 'neutral' arbitrators to each council to approve their verdicts. Now, the million dollar question is, doesn't the new law grant license to a system totally at odds with Pakistan's Constitution, in a stroke? What could be a gorier tale of misogynists' dominance that in tribal communities, where a woman exercising her right to determine the course of her love life is viewed as an anathema? As long as women hand over the reins of their womanhood and sexuality to a male guardian and a broader community, no one gets killed. But when they choose to command it, they risk their lives.
The time has come for the law-makers of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to recognise its follies and take the necessary corrective steps if it wants to come anywhere near countries that are now at the pinnacle of science and progress. It must also recognise its responsibilities towards all its citizens and take concerted action against such self-styled courts that routinely order killings, rapes, and other heinous crimes.

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