Jirga of ‘honour’

Every other day, news of women being killed by their ‘near and dear ones’ appear in the media. Horror seems to refuse going away from women in our society, be it ‘honour’ killing or any other form of discrimination towards them. A couple was killed in Karachi’s Mominabad area last month for doing free-will marriage and dishonouring their Pashtun culture on the orders of a jirga. Where does jirga stand in all this scenario?

“Jirga does not matter for making any decision. In our society, jirga’s decisions are made by those persons who are not familiar with the teachings of Islam,” says Mohsin Ashraf, who teaches both on moral and practical grounds. “It will be much better for our country to make our government and courts strong enough to overcome all jirgas,” he added.

The scourge of honour killing, mostly done on the orders of illegal jirgas or tribal councils, keeps claiming people’s lives, most of them for exercising free-will marriage. Abdul Hadi, 24, and Haseena Bibi, 19, were cousins who committed the ‘crime’ of marrying against their families’ wishes got killed just a week after their nikah. Families of both the bride and groom were involved in the bloodshed.

“We need education on both parts; parents as well as children,” says Ayesha, a fresh graduate.

“Parents should understand their children and trust their opinion, whereas, children should not think of their parents as their enemies, and share their feelings with them.

“According to Islam, a girl’s nikah is not complete without the presence of her wali, as in her father or brother,” she remarked as being a learner of tafseer.

Not all of the incidents of honour killings come where a married couple is victimised. Sometimes, young girls are killed for having secret friendships and affairs with the opposite sex. “Honour killings often do not make a big news in the media. Several women have been killed on wrong pretext of affairs, friendship etc,” says Ahsan Raza, a journalist, a writer and a teacher.

“The families need to be educated that when they caught an immature girl having an affair, they need to counsel her. Most of the wrong affairs happen because of lack of education, exposure and trust in girls,” he added.

Police have arrested Hadi’s father and nine other relatives after the couple’s bodies were found in a local graveyard. Bibi’s father has absconded, according to police.

On Oct 8, 2016, the parliament passed new legislation that increased sentences for individuals who commit ‘honour’ killing, but still the news of bloodshed in the name of ‘honour’ keeps coming from across the country.

In this age, when broken homes are on the rise because of no marriage planning, a woman often gets killed for invoking her right to select the life partner of her choice. Love marriage is a taboo because of the lack of education. It is high time we learn to trust women’s insight and let them allow to live the married life of their choice.

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