She is inspirational, passionate and persistent. Khalida Brohi, a social entrepreneur and youth activist from Pakistan, is on a mission to end honour killings in Pakistan. She also started Sughar Foundation, which is dedicated to helping rural and tribal women in Pakistan to raise their socio-economic status.
During her teenage years, Khalida watched her friends of same age enter arranged marriages, often against their will. Then, one of her friend’s was murdered in an “honour killing” and that’s what led her to start the movement of putting an end to such a practice. A movement like this attracted controversy and backlash but Khalida stood her ground. She even launched a campaign called “Wake Up! Campaign Against Honour Killings.” and started naming people who were involved.
She was invited to talk on TED and told the audience, “We were challenging centuries old customs in these communities. They stood up, saying we were spreading un-Islamic behaviour.”
She wanted to educate and empower these girls about their rights but needed an innovative way to convey her message without any retaliation and that’s when Sughar Empowerment Society came about. She invited the women from her and other tribes to come together to practice their prized skill; i.e. embroidery. While these women sat together stitching, she would educate them on their rights and freedom of choice. She taught the women about their rights as very well stated in Islam and would encourage them to have a dialogue with their husbands.
While Khalida struggles with her cause across the border, in India too ountless young men and women are killed because they dared to love across caste and community. A country with so many differentiations and divides, this topic becomes a hotbed of debate; Haryana and Tamil Nadu report of such killings quite often.
Jagmati Sangwan, founder of All India Democratic Women’s Association, has addressed this problem many a times. Al Jazeera writes, “In India, if anyone is responsible for putting the issue of “honour” crimes on the national and international agenda, it is Sangwan.” A pioneer for equal rights for men and women, in 2010 the legal cell of AIDWA even drafted a comprehensive law to stop such killings. It read:
“All persons including young persons and women have the right to control their own lives, a right to liberty and freedom of expression, and a right of association, movement and bodily integrity. Every man and woman has a right to choose her/his own partner in marriage or otherwise and any action listed below to prevent the exercise of this right shall amount to an offence under the provisions of this Bill.”
The Bill was supported by the National Commission of Women but was never passed. In 2012, the Law Comission of India also brought out its own version of the bill, but nothing conclusive took place. When the Modi Government came to power, a delegation from AIDWA met the Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, but yet again got no conclusive response.
Brinda Karat, a politician and an activist, has stood against such practices and been vocal about the same for years. She says, “We already have many laws but the problem is essentially about delay and implementation which affects the victims. I would suggest moral and civic education, right from primary education, as solutions.”
Changing mindsets is not an easy or trivial task, but it is a job that needs to be done and soon. As one of the foremost social reformers of our country B.R Ambedkar said “Political tyranny is nothing compared to social tyranny and a reformer, who defies society, is a much more courageous man than a politician who defies government.
Worth giving this a thought.