Why Karo Kari still persists in Pakistan
There are no two opinions about the fact that Karo Kari is a social evil that has inflicted dejection on women’s lives in Sindh and Balochistan. In the traditional context, the phenomenon is linked to familial honour and integrity,and thus, anyone speaking against the practice and condemning its existence is looked down upon, declared immodest and socially boycotted at least in the above stated societies.
Faced with entrenched social taboo that has a regard for killing women in the name of honour, the civil society and respective government institutions cannot stand indifferent to the phenomenon. For sure they have been striving
for long to overcome the brutal practices, but all such efforts have met with little success and that too for no strong reasons.
Recently, during evaluation of an international donor funded project on eradication of Karo Kari and violence against women in Sindh and Balochistan, I happened to visit different parts of the said provinces. Although this evaluation exercise was quite brief due to the time constraints, but it helped highlighting some major gaps that significantly hindered the heavily funded projects from achieving the desired results or even reaching any closer to them.
Here, utilizing this space, I will point out the gaps that impeded the projects conducted by local NGOs and development organizations from reaping the desired goals and will also share the ways that marked significant utilization in addressing the issue, but they were given little importance as due to weak monitoring systems, their usefulness could not be fully realized.
The local development organizations and NGOs while submitting proposals to the donors aimed at combating and eradicating widespread violence against women in less developed provinces of Pakistan usually focus on advocacy oriented activities only, without realizing the fact that for advocacy and awareness campaigns to be effective, prevalence of education among the targeted communities is a prerequisite. Moreover, since such organizations usually challenge the entrenched beliefs of the targeted societies, they are outrightly labeled as agents with hidden agendas who are there to make people immodest. As such perception spreads; it renders even the advocacy work on their part ineffective, rather counterproductive.
During the recent project evaluation work, something that appeared to be most noticeable was that both Sindh and Balochistan have very less number of schools, for girls, they were almost nonexistent. While designing its activities and planning for funding projects aimed at addressing Karo Kari and violence against women, had the donor organizations started from opening up schools for the local communities, where entrenched distorted social concepts would have been challenged through provision of quality education, the campaign for the noble cause could have been far more effective.
One of the activities, that was employed by a local organization to sensitize the masses on how brutal the phenomenon of Karo Kari was to conduct theaters dramas. These theaters would evolve around stories close to reality. People
would see how for mere consulting a doctor could hold a woman kari, rendering her dead at the hands of her own husband, father, brother or even son. Such theaters, amazingly ensued a sense of realization among the observers, compelling them to realize how they had been supporting a practice that was inhumane to the core and that had nothing to do with the modesty. Rather, most of the people had opted for it to settle scores with their enemies. This activity had a positive effect on the minds of the people to the extent that religious leaders, during the weekly sermons at Jummah (Friday) prayers, started to condemn the practice of Karo Kari openly.
Another major activity that was used for sensitization of the society was conducting talk shows on FM channels. This, apparently, seemed to be a major component of the awareness raising campaign, but contrary to the perception, it miserably failed to leave a significant impact. When investigated from the targeted communities, it prevailed that for having a television set in almost every home; radio was no more something that is greatly cherished. If instead of wasting money on radio
programmes, funds would have been allocated for television programmes, just like theaters, they too could have contributed in sensitizing the targeted communities against the phenomenon.
Moreover, in order to save on their activity cost, the implementing organizations usually do not go about completely implementing the activities that have significant impact on the targeted communities. Such issues could have been
addressed through stronger and more effective monitoring mechanisms.
The development organizations working for the eradication of Karo Kari and violence against women should realize the fact that these are the evils that find their roots in the local cultures of Sindh and Balochistan. And the only way to uproot them is to educate the masses, raise their standard of living and finally, maintain a strong law and order situation that would realize the people that those who will attempt this heinous crime against humanity will not more roam scot-free.
This article was originally published at: News Pakistan
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.