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Friday June 21, 2024

A woman’s life

By Editorial Board
September 07, 2021

It will be no exaggeration to say that the value of a woman's life in Pakistan is rather low. We can argue in fact that the value of human life generally – if it does not belong to the elite – is low, but even in that women lose out much more. How else can one describe the sight of the father of a young medical student murdered in 2018 by a man who may have been seeking her hand in marriage hugging the murderer of his daughter. The 'settlement' which decided the end of the case and apparently, according to people present at the gathering, brought the families closer together shows just what kind of value is attached to the lives of women in the country and how their death is treated. We have heard of previous such judgments as well and, despite the ban on extrajudicial settlements, they continue. While the families may be closer, Asma Rani, the young medical student who was killed, died because she was a woman, and will not get justice – because she was a woman.

The settlement which took place was attended by members of the JUI-F, including a sitting MNA, a representative of the ANP, which calls itself a liberal party, and a member of the Qaumi Watan Party. The local jirga had declined to look into the case saying they were not approached by the families. In their place, local elders who included politicians gathered in Kohat, the place where the murder occurred in 2018, to decide the fate of the case. As has happened before, there was no semblance of justice, no trial, no questions asked as to why the accused man had killed Asma Rani and ended her hopes of becoming a doctor and going on to serve her community.

This tragically is the way things operate in the country far too often. Even today, despite bans by courts, informal gatherings are frequently turned to by families to decide such matters. The fact that so many of those who commit violent crimes get away free encourages more such crimes to be committed. Asma Rani is dead. But further crimes can perhaps be stopped if those who committed them were to be punished, rather than given a warm hug by the fathers of victims, making it seem that a woman's death really means nothing, neither to her family nor to the state nor to society. We hope the political parties whose members took part in the gathering will at least question them.