Five Women Buried Alive in Pakistan for Defying the Community Over Marriage

by Gopalan on Aug 31 2008 12:34 PM

Taking the savagery of the feudal mores to newer depths, a tribal community in Pakistan has buried five women alive for defying the elders over marriage of three young girls. A major international campaign has been mounted to have the perpetrators booked.

The incident apparently took at place in Baba Kot, 80 kilometers away from Usta Mohammad city of Jafferabad district, a remote area of Balochistan province.

The younger brother of a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party had orchestrated the atrocity, charges the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

The five women buried were Ms. Fatima, wife of Umeed Ali Umrani, Jannat Bibi, wife of Qaiser Khan, Fauzia, daughter of Ata Mohammad Umrani, and two other girls, aged between 16 to 18 years. They were at the house of Chandio at Baba Kot village and to leave for a civil court at Usta Mohammad, district Jafarabad, so that three of the girls could marry the men of their choice.

Their decision to have marriage in court angered the elders of the Umrani tribe, mainly concentrated in the Jafarabad and Naseerabad districts of Balochistan province, 300 kilometers from Quetta city, the provincial capital.

Abdul Sattar Umrani, a brother of Sadiq Umrani, the provincial minister for housing and construction, took the lead to squelch the move of the bold women. He arrived at the house where they were staying with more than six persons and abducted them at gun point. They were taken in a Land Cruiser jeep, bearing a registration number plate of the Balochistan government, to another remote area, Nau Abadi, in the vicinity of Baba Kot, the AHRC has found out.

After reaching the deserted area of Nau Abadi, Abdul Sattar Umrani and his six companions took the three younger women out of the jeep and beat them before allegedly opening fire with their guns. The girls were seriously injured but were still alive at that moment. Sattar Umrani and his accomplices hurled them into a wide ditch and covered them with earth and stones. The two older women were an aunt of Fauzia and the other, the mother of one minor. When they protested and tried to stop the burial of the minors that were plainly alive, the attackers were so angry that they also pushed them into the ditch and buried all alive. After completing the burial, they fired several shots into to the air so that no one would come close.

The incident of has not even been reported in the local media nor the police have bothered to register a case even a month later. The provincial minister is so powerful that police are reluctant to even provide details on the murder, says AHRC.

When the Commission contacted Sadiq Umrani, provincial minister, he confirmed the incident, but said that only three women had been killed by unknown persons and also denied his or his brother's involvement.

The local police officials plead helplessness in the face of political pressures. They claim as the graves of the victims have not been located so far, it is difficult to register a case. The victim's family members have since left the place, and their whereabouts are unknown. 

Abdul Sattar Umrani, the brother of the provincial minister, was also involved in murder of three persons, including one young woman, in January 2006. That case was similar in that a school teacher, Mohammad Aslam, was going with his lover in a taxi to a civil court to court marry.

The perpetrators stopped them at Manjo Shori, sub district Tumboo, District Naseerabad and killed all three persons by gun fire. The dead included the taxi driver, Jabal Aidee. The police were unable to institute a murder case for five months until the intervention of Iftekhar Choudhry, the deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and also the deputy speaker of Senate. But only one person was arrested while Abdul Sattar Umrani himself remained at large.

Every year in Pakistan hundreds of women, of all ages and in all parts of the country, are reported killed in the name of honour. Many more cases go unreported. Almost all go unpunished. The lives of millions of women in Pakistan are circumscribed by traditions, which enforce extreme seclusion and submission to men many of whom impose their virtually proprietarily control over women with violence.

For the most part, women bear the traditional male control over every aspect of their bodies, speech and behaviour with stoicism, as part of their kismat (fate), but exposure to media, the work of women's rights groups and the greater degree of mobility have seen the beginnings of women's rights awareness seep into the secluded world of women, notes the AHRC.

Those concerned over the plight of Pakistani women are encouraged to visit  and join a signature campaign.