Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


On July 15th, Qandeel Baloch, a popular social media celebrity in Pakistan was brutally murdered by her own brother in a horrific case of honor killing. According to the newspaper Dawn, in an unprecedented move by the state, the FIR registered against the killers under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) made the offence unpardonable. Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, was killed by her brother last week because she brought “dishonor” to the family. Physicist and rights activist (and member of the Insaf Bulletin collective) Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy who found Baloch a fearless young woman determined to “break taboos that shackle women in Pakistan’s patriarchal society”, believed she paid the ultimate price for her convictions — being strangled to death.


That same week, a 21-year-old woman in Haryana, India, was raped by a group of three men, who targeted her for reporting a rape at the hands of the same men three years ago. A recent report in Bangladesh reports an alarming rise in cases of female child rape, while the public discourse continues to remain nonchalant; recently the Bollywood superstar Salman Khan casually remarked that he felt like “a raped woman” after a grueling film schedule. The allegations of sexual violence against Indian armed forces in Kashmir and Manipur continue unabated, and are routinely denied by the mainstream press despite continued evidence.


However, there are signs that women, marginalized members of suppressed communities and their allies are not taking things lying down. The protests in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India continue to demand that the government does not let perpetrators of violence off the hook. It is important that we support and join these activists. It is extremely important that cases of violence against women are fast-tracked and women who report these cases are afforded legal protection.


Meanwhile, atrocities against Dalits continue unabated. In Gujarat, four Dalits were stripped and beaten by self-styled cow protection committees for skinning dead cows while police stood by and took no action. In Uttar Pradesh, the country’s foremost Dalit leader, Mayawati, was called “worse than a prostitute” by a BJP leader.


In this issue of INSAF Bulletin, we bring news and views from Kashmir and Multan, Gujarat, California and Haryana, Dhaka and Imphal. We also include an article about Turkey, since it represents a cautionary tale for democracies in South Asia. As usual, we welcome your feedback.

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