Farzana Iqbal was hit with bricks and beaten to death by ten to fifteen members of her family, on a very busy street just outside the Lahore High Court, in broad daylight. Unofficial justice was meted out at the doorstep of the official seat of justice. Beautiful. Just as it ought to be. This is all par for the course of course. She obviously got what she deserved. But curiously, many Pakistanis appear to be genuinely outraged. Their innocence would be shocking if it weren’t so laughable. I mean, seriously? Aren’t Pakistani women beaten in their homes all the time? Aren’t they killed for exercising their choice all the time? Aren’t they maimed and disfigured with acid all the time? Aren’t they buried alive all the time? A thousand a year die to save someone or the other’s honour. What’s the big deal if Farzana died too? She ought to have been just a statistic, if that. She’s only a woman, after all. And she was killed for ‘honour’, for goodness’ sake. What is wrong with that? What is wrong with everyone? It was her family - her father, her brothers, her uncles and assorted male cousins who killed her, for crying out loud. Why is everyone pretending to be so perturbed? Don’t you do it all the time? Don’t you slap or beat your wives, just because you can? Don’t you burn them, just because you can? Don’t you push them off balconies just because you can? Don’t you beat them to death, just because you can? Just because you can, and get away with it?

It’s called impunity. You know, when you can, and get away with it almost all the time. You shouldn’t be complaining at all you know. You sound as hollow as Iqbal, Farzana’s husband, himself. He proudly volunteered that he’d killed his first wife to marry Farzana. Get this: he says he killed his first wife (in cold blood), to marry Farzana but his son forgave him. And hence he is exonerated. He tells this to none other than the press, to be quoted around the world. You know why? Because Pakistani law allows next of kin/ heirs to forgive personal injury or murder. Indeed, the Qisas and Diyat laws allow victims or their kin the right to determine whether to exact retribution (qisas) or compensation (diyat) or to pardon the accused. The rest is not history, as they say, but a bloody circus. Literally bloody. The state leaves it to individuals to decide. No judge, no jury, just individuals. Individuals vulnerable to unbearable pressure, blackmail or threats; or individuals party to the crime to begin with. The state abdicates with grace and beauty in the garb of Islam. Exit left, as the dramatist might put it.

Farzana’s widower, Iqbal the murderer of his first wife, is currently running from pillar to post to obtain justice for Farzana, his poor Clementine. He pleaded with the police standing by to save her life. He is expressing his outrage to the media at the moment. Surely, he will go to court next. The irony has neither dawned on him and neither on you lot, the Pakistani men. These laws were enacted by you. Yes, you. And these laws are most often used to kill, honour-kill and maim women with impunity. Now kindly do not feign horror. Don’t you dare say a word against such killings to appear modern and civilized till you can rise and change the law. Do not dare sympathize with the plight of women till you can force your representatives to repeal the laws that make it right to kill, maim and rape with impunity. Do not dare to tut tut till you get some help and see women as human, with the same rights to life and security as yourselves. Do not dare to champion our cause till your honour lies between the legs of women.

Dear good Muslim Pakistani men, till you pluck the courage to change, at least be honest to admit it’s good – it’s alright to beat, kill, rape and burn wives, daughters, maids and sisters. Either that, or pass the domestic violence bills. Either that, or repeal Qisas and Diyat law.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I’m sorry, you can’t be misogynistic and outraged at the same time. Forget the world, now Pakistani women are laughing at you. How does that feel for your ‘honour’? We moved the cheese. From between our legs to between our ears. You see the problem?

 The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.

Email:gulnbukhari@gmail.com

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