Pakistan: Danish-Pakistani woman killed in honor murder (updated)

A man in a small Pakistani town killed his Danish sister-in-law because he suspected her of having a "bad character", police Tuesday said.


Faisal Bashir shot dead 31-year-old Tahira Bibi, who was of Pakistani origin, local police official Mohammad Shahbaz Cheema told Agence France-Presse.


"It's a case of honor killing as Faisal suspected his brother's wife had bad character," Cheema said.


He added that police arrested Faisal, his two brothers and father after a complaint by the parents of Tahira, who settled in Kharian -- 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest of Lahore -- after marrying Mohammad Shehbaz 10 years ago.


Her parents accused Shehbaz of asking his family to kill Tahira for not delivering him a baby boy.


"However, Faisal told us during interrogation that he shot dead his brother's wife in June after receiving numerous anonymous phone calls that she had a bad character," Cheema added.


He said the police had yet to complete investigations. "We are investigating the murder on scientific lines and hope to expose real culprits very soon."


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According to Berlingske Tidende's sources Tahira was killed since she didn't follow her brother in law's orders. The murder took place 12 days ago.

The father of the woman said in a police report that she'd been living with her in-laws in Kharian for the past three years. She was treated "repulsively" there because she couldn't have more children. He says that the murder was a planned plot, agreed to by the woman's husband, who had come to Denmark ten years ago and had continued living here.

The husband was in Denmark when the murder took place, and Deputy police inspector Ove Dahl of the Copenhagen Police confirms that he's been held for three days last week. He was freed since the police did not receive information from the Pakistani authorities.

Dahl says that the Danish police will not be involved more in the case, but that he will try to push the Pakistanis for more information, through middle-men in Pakistan and through Interpol. He does not think it's possible to travel to Pakistan to question the family members who were arrested.

In Danish cases of honor murder, such as Ghazala Khan (18) and Sonay Muhammed (14), the murderers got harsh punishments. In Khan's case, nine people were sentenced, in the case of Muhammed, her father was sentenced to 14 years. But things are different when the murder take place in the woman's homeland.

Claus Buhr, who wrote a book about honor murders says that there are about 1,000 honor murders a year in the Punjab province, and it's accepted that a man's daughter or daughter in law will be murdered if she doesn't act properly. The police don't usually investigate, and if they do, they only investigate the murderer.

He adds that the Danish interest in the case is decisive for whether the murderers will be punished.

If it wouldn't be an honor murder with connections outside of Pakistan, the likelihood of a sentence would be very little, but since the Danish authorities are involved, there's a possibility that the sentence would be stricter.

Usually it's hard for foreign government to intervene if the honor murder is exported' aboard.

In recent years, after the honor murder of Ghazala Khan, Danish authorities have upgraded their efforts against honor related crimes, but in this case, where the woman was killed in the family's homeland, the authorities are powerless, says Anne Mau, of the National Organization of Women's Shelters.

She says it's deeply worrying when women and young children are lured home on holiday or reeducation without possibility of leaving. She says they hear about it countless times, and see all types of coercion and threats being used.

She's backed by anthropologist and honor murder expert Unni Wikan of Oslo University, who says that it's very easy for Pakistanis to commit such murder in Pakistan, because they are very seldom punished. It's therefore necessary to have better police cooperation with such countries.

In the UK there were a series of cases where young women of Pakistani background were coerced to go to their homeland and where killed there. There were also cases where the murder took place in the UK, but the murderer then fled abroad. Similar cases happened in Norway.

The Danish Social Liberal Party thinks that the instead of having the government fumbles about in cases of honor murder, they should set resources and finance the study of honor crimes, a study which the Danish National Centre for Social Research says is lacking.

Simon Emil Ammitzbøll of the Danish Social Liberal Party says that because there's no such study, the politicians don't know how they can stop forced marriages and honor murder, and that it's too serious an issue to pass laws based on prejudices and gut feelings.

The DPP (Danish People's Party) demands that more ministers look into the issue of the honor murder in Pakistan.

Martin Henriksen of the DPP wants to know what the government is doing to prevent honor murders of Danish citizens abroad. Henriksen also wants an account of the extent of the problem and to know how much Danish and Pakistani authorities are cooperating on the issue.

He says that it's deeply tragic that a mother of Pakistani background was murdered in Pakistan because she couldn't have more children, and that now we learn that the Danish authorities are really powerless in such situations and that the Danish police had to free her husband, because they didn't receive the files from Pakistan. It's simply just isn't good enough.

Justice Minister Lene Espersen (Conservative People's Party) won't comment on the case.

The Muslim Council of Denmark (Muslimernes Fællesråd) thinks Danish authorities should intervene, even if the murder took place in Pakistan. The council thinks that Denmark should send out the message that they won't accept such attacks on their citizens, whether they occur in Denmark or abroad.

Spokesperson Zubair Butt Hussain says that they don't think such an act can be ascribed to culture or to Islam, but can be explained by cold-blooded immorality, which cannot be accepted in any society.

Sources: Inquirer.net (English), BT 1, 2; Kristeligt Dagblad; DR 1, 2 (Danish), see the Copenhagen Post for more information in English

Update:

The brother-in-law admits he shot the woman, but he says he did it alone. The local police inspector doesn't believe him.

The police inspector told Politiken that the family claims that the husband encouraged his brother to kill his wife. Her uncle thinks it was a conspiracy in the family, but the husband's family denies it.

The uncle, who was visiting the family when the murder took place, told police that the woman's husband was involved.

The brother held for murder told police he did it because the woman, a mother to two daughters, had an affair. He said he got a call from some people telling him his sister-in-law was having an extra-marital affair with another man, says the police inspector. But he adds that their investigation shows that it isn't true and therefore they don't believe that he's telling the truth. Rather, they think he's hiding something.

The policeman couldn't say whether they intend to arrest the woman's husband, who lives in Denmark.

Source: DR (Danish)

1 comment:

Heidi said...

* Pakistan: Honor killings are known as Karo Kari (Sindhi: ڪارو ڪاري) (Urdu: کاروکاری ). The practice is supposed to be prosecuted under ordinary murder, but in practice police and prosecutors often ignore it.[26] Often a man must simply claim the killing was for his honor and he will go free. Nilofar Bakhtiar, advisor to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, stated that in 2003, as many as 1,261 women were murdered in honor killings.[27] On December 8, 2004, under international and domestic pressure, Pakistan enacted a law that made honor killings punishable by a prison term of seven years, or by the death penalty in the most extreme cases. Women's rights organizations were, however, wary of this law as it stops short of outlawing the practice of allowing killers to buy their freedom by paying compensation to the victim's relatives. Women's rights groups claimed that in most cases it is the victim's immediate relatives who are the killers, so inherently the new law is just eyewash. It did not alter the provisions whereby the accused could negotiate pardon with the victim's family under the so-called Islamic provisions. In March 2005 the Pakistani government allied with Islamists to reject a bill which sought to strengthen the law against the practice of "honor killing".[28] However, the bill was brought up again, and in November 2006, it passed.[29]. It is doubtful whether or not the law would actually help women.[30]

During the year 2002 about four hundred people (men & women) were killed in the name of (Karo-Kari) in Sindh Out of 382 (245 women, 137 men). The phenomenon of the killing in the name of honor has direct relevance to the illiteracy rate, as these killings are more common in the areas where the literacy rate is lower. According to a report issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Jacobabad District ranked first in terms of murder in the name of Karo Kari (66 women, 25 men). Jacobabad district has a literacy rate of 23.66, the least literate district of Sindh after Tharparkar District, and Thatta District. After Jacobabad, the Ghotki District witnessed the highest number of murders in the name of Karo Kari (13 men, 54 women).

After Ghotki, Larkana is the district with the next highest murder rate in the name of Karo Kari (24 men, 38 women). Larkana as well, has a low literacy rate of 34.95. This is lower than even Naushahro Feroze District, Dadu District, and Khairpur District, having 39.14, 35.56 and 35.50 percent literacy rates respectively. These districts of the upper Sindh have low literacy rates but high feudal influence in every walk of life.

Jacobabad, Ghotki and Larkana are those districts of Sindh where not only the illiterate ones, but tribal chieftains are also in large number. According to a report released by the HRCP, the cases of Karo Kari are mostly settled at jirgas, the private and parallel judicial system of Chieftains. However, districts of lower parts of Sindh like Tharparkar, Badin, and Thatta experience nominal occurrences of honor killings because they have lower amount of feudal influence there.[3