Stories about jirga

Rapist doctor arrested in Brazil, what would Pakistan do?

I recently came across an utterly horrendous news story. In Paraguay, a 70-year-old doctor was sentenced for raping and sexually abusing 39 of his female patients who came to his fertility clinic in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Roger Abdelmassih has been sentenced to 278 years in prison. What is even more disturbing is that this doctor was a well-known practitioner in his city and had also treated many Brazilian celebrities. He was well off, had a wife and kids, and was living a supposedly happy life. Yet he reduced himself to this. Though I was glad that he finally got punished, the news ...

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“Har kala rasha”: Hujra, a fading Pakhtun tradition

There are many characteristics of Pakhtun culture and a hujra is one of them. In fact, it is considered to be the most important part of Pakhtun culture. A hujra can be loosely translated as a social club. From the western mountainous terrains of Pakistan to the heart of Afghanistan to anywhere in the world where Pakhtuns live, there exists the hujra. Exclusively for the male population, a hujra plays host to various aspects of the social life of Pakhtun society – from resolving community disputes to wedding ceremonies. However, the very existence of this age-old tradition is now threatened due to modernisation and Western democracy. Purpose of a hujra A typical hujra is owned and run ...

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Accuse and abuse

Expect, An elaborate depiction, Of maternal incest, For a giddy evening, Should not be blandly left. Paint the picture, And then, pervert it well. Really, what good is an abuse If not aimed below her belt? Accept, The just Jirga has finally said, For an honour to be reclaimed, Residential access of it, Must be gained. Hold her down, as you spread her around, Snatch it from, where it used to belong. Really, what good is an accusation, Without some perks, Deflowering virgins, For the privileged ones? The post first ...

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Killed for enjoying music? What is the truth?

Kohistan is a settled district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the predominantly non-Pashtun Hazara Division. It stretches to about 7,500 square kilometres on both, the east and west of the Indus River. The population of Kohistan is over 550,000 and the people speak Shina and Kohistani – both of Dardic origin. However, like the controversial video scandal the culture, history and ethnography of Kohistan is a mystery for the common Pakistani. Western Kohistan was a part of Swat-Kohistan in the district of Swat but back in the 70s it was made a separate district as was eastern Kohistan. Interestingly, the Kohistan district has two judicial systems in practice. Western Kohistan is ...

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A child’s broken dreams

A smile flickered on her lips as the fluttering butterfly evaded her for the umpteenth time and became a fugitive in the darkening skies. She cried out to her mother excitedly, “I nearly caught her!” To which her mother, Nargis, replied as always, “How many times have I told you not to tease such innocent souls, Ghulab Jahan? They will curse you and then you will never be able to become a doctor.” Ghulab Jahan, as pretty as her name implied, chuckled at the thought of a tongue-less creature complaining to God about her. Ghulab was an anachronism in many ways; she belonged neither to ...

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In the name of honour, a woman can be a breadwinner but cannot vote?

Women’s suffrage is the right of women to vote. In primitive societies, women have always been denied basic rights, however, the struggle to snatch what is theirs has never ceased. The movement for women’s suffrage started in France around the end of the eighteenth century and by the twenty-first century, there is no part of the world where women were barred from voting – except, of course, Pakistan. Yesterday, much was happening in the country because of the by-polls, not only socially but also politically, as women from various areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were not permitted to go out and cast their ...

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Man dead for falling in love: Parachinar is taking us back to the stone ages

A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post which delved into the rich prospects of the jirga system, its history and advantage to those who don’t have quick and easy access to the legal system in Pakistan. A couple of weeks ago, it made me ponder over my inflexibility towards accepting it as a system of justice – today I hold a strong stance against it. Having practiced in the courts of Pakistan, I understand first-hand the issues that the common man would face in his quest for legal justice; acute delays, unending legal costs and corruption within the ...

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Why I believe the jirga system should stay

We, as people, are very quick to jump to conclusions, form opinions, and criticise what we hear and see in the news. It may be something as trivial as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) holding talks with Tahirul Qadri, or the supposedly fake video that went viral showing the Taliban handing down 50 lashes to a girl in Swat who was found to be in violation of the Shariah law by the Taliban jirga. Very recently when a jirga in Balochistan declared 13 girls vani to settle a tribal feud, soon after television and social media were inundated with extreme views, some slammed the jirga system as ‘barbaric’, ‘medieval’ and an ...

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Can the jirga and women co-exist?

A loud screech from the speakers drowned out the last word of the lecture ─ the word which happened to be ‘peace’. Nervously, the girls leaned forward to make sure they missed nothing else. They were to write an essay. Their teacher, her voice thick with distaste, pronounced the words, “…the existing judicial system and its failings, and how the jirga can help…” But the rest was lost again as a throat was cleared explosively, and the azaan burst onto the airwaves. Shifa rubbed hard at her eyes. Damned if she did and damned if she didn’t, this was the gist of her thoughts ─ ...

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The curse of swara

“I will kill myself but will not marry an older man. I am ready to bear any other punishment but will not submit to the jirga’s decision of giving me away in swara. Why are they sacrificing me for my brother’s fault?” After uttering those words, she burst into tears. Her every word pierced my heart. As my interview of the girl came to an end, an unending string of gloomy thoughts engulfed me and I pondered over the state of women’s rights in our society. I came to the conclusion that in a male-dominated society, women live only to protect the ...

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