Joined: 21 Dec 2006
|Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 6:22 pm Post subject: 565 women victims of honour killings
|ISLAMABAD: At least 565 women and girls in Pakistan died in so-called honor killings in 2006, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said Thursday, nearly double the number it recorded the year before.
The sharp increase from 287 in 2005 was due “at least in part” to expanded data collection, the privately funded rights organisation said in its annual report. However, it said many more cases may have gone unreported and has estimated in the past that the annual total may be about 1,000.
In the report released on Thursday, the HRCP said at least 475 of last year’s honour killings followed accusations of “illicit relations”. Sixty of the dead were minors. Arrests were made in only 128 cases, it said.
Under pressure over the high-profile Mukhtaran Mai gang rape case, President Pervez Musharraf in December signed an amendment to the Hudood Ordinance to make it easier to prosecute sexual assaults.
The HRCP complained that the change was cosmetic, and its chairwoman, Asma Jahangir accused the government of using it to improve its image abroad while failing to tackle widespread violence and discrimination against women at home.
“There are two faces of the government. One face is for the diplomatic enclave,” Asma Jahangir said at a news conference, referring to a section of Islamabad where foreign embassies are located. “The ugly face is for the women of Pakistan and I am sorry that we see that ugly face much too often with every case that comes before us,” she said.
The HRCP also accused the Musharraf-led government of unlawfully detaining hundreds of people in the name of the fight against terrorism. The annual HRCP report said cases of the so-called “disappeared” was the most pressing problem facing the country.
“The people who have disappeared are either people who are suspected of attacks on the president, or nationalist Baloch, which are the largest, or Sindhi nationalists,” Asma Jahangir told reporters.
“The illegal detention of hundreds of people who had disappeared emerged as an extremely pressing human rights problem,” the report said. It also painted a grim picture of the country in general, saying there was a complete breakdown of institutions under Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999.
“We see that there is a dysfunctional state of affairs in the country, that nothing seems to be working, there seems to be a complete breakdown of institutions, a complete breakdown of law and order,” Asma Jehangir said.
She said that “torture is endemic, it is the rule rather than the exception”. Pakistan has detained scores of suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban militants since military ruler Musharraf joined the US-led “war on terror” in 2001.
The HRCP had received reports of at least 400 disappearances in recent years and had documented details of 150 persons by the end of 2006, the commission’s report added. Asma Jahangir, who has also served as the regional UN rapporteur, said there was also a large number of people who did not want to report that their relatives had disappeared.