Sunday, July 30, 2017

Another Mukhtara Mia

Mukhtara Mia is right when she said that her 15 years of struggle gone to wast. Once again another innocent girl of age 15 was raped in the city Multan of Southern Punjab in the last week of July. It was a penalty, ordered by the punchiyat or jirga- a village council because her brother kidnapped and raped another girl, aged 12. Therefore, after hearing the complaint, council came to this decision that sister of the accused should be raped in return. Revenge has been taken in the name of justice. Case closed.

No one could do anything about it, just like no did anything at the time when Mukhtara Mia was being punished for the unproven crime of her younger brother in 2003. How she found the courage to kick against the powerful people and became the hero instead of victim of revenge rape is a story of struggle. But everyone is not hero, because everyone does not stand up. To many, it is a norm. They have accepted it the way it is. What these councils order is consider the final verdict. Going against them is asking for more trouble.  Many can't  say a word even in their wildest dream. Mia didn't let it go. By standing up for herself at that time, she actually stood up for many others.

Jirga or Panciat has no illegal status in Pakistan. But it is a reality of rural areas of Pakistan. It is informal and traditional rural way of settling disputes. Group of people from village make a council. People bring  their issues of property, family, and even crimes like rape to them. After hearing the complaints, jury give the verdicts despite having no such legal right. They can go to that extend that they can order rape as a punishment. Irony is that all the verdicts are carried out obediently. 

 Mia says that it still exits because the legal system has failed.

People in Pakistan, and elsewhere, often ask me why do jirgas still exist in the country? I tell them that they exist to remind Pakistanis that their legal system has failed.

She is right at some extend. Legal system of Pakistan is questionable. It take ages to solve one case. Justice delayed is justice denied. Over all people have no trust in law enforcement and legal system either. For a poor, going through all this is more than to bear. Going to police is another stigma and consider asking for more trouble. These councils in rural areas solve their issues in a day. However, this is still not the solution neither it should become an excuse to solve legal issues in such illegal ways.

 We should own the failure in order to solve this problem. System doesn't work in isolation. It is public in the end of the day who make it work or strong. Laws of everything is present in Pakistan. Problem is that people are either not aware them or don't want to get involved at all.  Police's prime duty is to provide safety to the public. But it is also the responsibility of the public to bring in the notice if they are not doing their duty properly. First thing, immediately after an incident a proper complaint should be registered no matter how difficult it gets.  This case was also came to light  when both parties registered the FIR.

It has been seen that most of the time, instead of making a complaint, public excuse the police by saying that they don't do anything. A cultural of uncertainly and distrust  among police and public have developed.

Rural areas of Pakistan are not just rural area with agricultural as their occupation. We have feudal and tribal mindset, society and system in our rural areas. Even educated and influential people bow down in front of them. Like it or not our government,  politics and police are product of these backward feudal and tribal system. They are in national and provincial assemblies. Having illiterate, unaware, scared villagers work in their favour. These issues will remain their if public will not revolt against these self appointed lords. Mai has payed the price of revolting against it. She knows the score. 

Government should declare such councils and court illegal openly. Public do their bit by bringing such criminal activities in light without any fear. TogStrick and serious action should be taken against them that no one 

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