Vigilante justice haunts Pakistani women, says daily

January 25th, 2011 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Jan 25 (IANS) Vigilante justice is haunting women in Pakistan, a leading daily said Tuesday adding: “Aside from violating human rights, these are blatantly extrajudicial actions that cannot go unpunished in any society that claims to value law and order.”An editorial in the Dawn said Saima, 20, was electrocuted to death in Bahawalpur district on the orders of a panchayat (village council) that comprised her father and three uncles as she had eloped with a man.

Last week, Najma Bibi was paraded around her village in Khanewal district with her hair chopped off and face blackened following a panchayat’s order, after her in-laws accused her of having illicit relations.

“In a trend that is nothing short of shameful for the country, informal ‘courts’ are continuing to hand out judgments against women in the name of honour despite having no legal mandate.

“In addition to the fact that they have never had legal authority, the Sindh High Court proactively declared them to be unconstitutional,” the editorial said.

Regarding a woman’s right to marry a person of her choice, a point that is relevant in Saima’s case, it said that numerous court judgments have upheld it and consent is considered vital in an Islamic marriage.

“Aside from violating human rights, these are blatantly extrajudicial actions that cannot go unpunished in any society that claims to value law and order.”

It noted the government’s repeated failure to deliver justice in previous instances, and Pakistani society’s tolerance of “barefaced discrimination against women”.

“Given these circumstances, there is a dire need to treat Saima and Najma Bibi as the wake-up calls about how vigilante ‘justice’ continues to haunt the women of Pakistan,” it said.

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