Monday, November 5, 2012
Who will speak for this girl killed by her father with acid?
Pakistani parents say they killed daughter with acid for looking at a boy
The Associated Press in Globe and Mail, November 5, 2012
Islamabad-A Pakistani couple accused of killing their 15-year-old daughter by pouring acid on her carried out the attack because she sullied the family’s honour by looking at a boy, the couple said in an interview broadcast Monday by the BBC.
The girl’s death underlines the problem of so-called “honour killings” in Pakistan where women are often killed for marrying or having relationships not approved by their families or because they are perceived to have somehow dishonoured their family.
The girl’s parents, Mohammad Zafar and his wife Zaheen, recounted the Oct. 29 incident from jail. The father said the girl had turned to look at a boy who drove by on a motorcycle, and he told her it was wrong.
“She said ‘I didn’t do it on purpose. I won’t look again.’ By then I had already thrown the acid. It was her destiny to die this way,” the girl’s mother told the British broadcaster.
Television footage of the couple showed them standing behind bars in separate, but adjoining jail cells.
The father said the family had already come under public censure because of their older daughter’s behaviour, but he did not detail what exactly he meant.
Pakistani officials initially said the attack occurred because the girl supposedly had an affair with a boy.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, at least 943 women were killed in the name of honour last year. Only 20 of the women were reported to have been given medical care before they died, the report said. The real toll is believed to be higher because many of the crimes go unreported.
“Throughout the year, women were callously killed in the name of honour when they went against family wishes in any way, or even on the basis of suspicion that they did so. Women were sometimes killed in the name of honour over property disputes and inheritance rights,” the report said.
Sometimes there are stories like this one that not only cause our stomachs to turn inside out in revulsion. We do not understand how this could occur.
We are not about to come to a place where we can or will understand how this could occur.
We are witnessing here an incomprehensible abuse of power, in cruelty, in extreme injustice and for what, in our western view, is a perfectly normal piece of behaviour..a young girl looking at a young man.
And this story comes from a country whose government is virtually disfunctional, whose relationship with the rest of the world is clouded by its possession of nuclear weapons, whose history includes the sale of nuclear secrets by one of its nuclear scientists to rogue states, and whose duplicity in international relations is so suspect as to be completely untrustworthy.
In spite of all those strikes against trust and credibility, the U.S. government has poured millions of aid dollars into Pakistan, while elements in Pakistan provide cover and intelligence for the Taliban, the vaunted enemy of the west in Afghanistan.
For the western governments to take up the cause of this young woman, as no doubt we will and must, is to confront what appears to us to be one of the most virulent and toxic of religious values, as witnessed both in Asia and right here in Canada, with the deaths of four women, at the hands of a father and the brother of three of them.
Sexuality, and how it is both perceived and practiced has, for too long, been at the centre of too many religious taboos, associated with sin, immorality, indecency and the abuse of power. This is not exclusively a Muslim problem, although their 'take' is so heinous as to be noxious, nefarious and institutionally criminal.
The church ought to face criminal prosecution for teaching such hatred and such insanity.
And the Christian church, for its part, is also complicit in prosletyzing an unnatural perspective on sexuality, outside of their private purview of the sanctity of marriage, an institution which itself is under considerable devaluation and suspicion. Perhaps this issue of the opening up of sexuality to a full and healthy dialogue among world religious leaders, and among those whose responsibility includes human rights and the human rights court in the Hague, could lead to some basic enforceable guidelines for the protection and the safety of women, from their families, their churches, their communities and their partners.
And what would the churches have then to "control" in their obsession for dominance, itself a rendering to infantilism of too many of its adherents.