Pakistan’s Bhutto Decries “Conspiracy Against Women”

In response to the recent murder of Samia Imran, Pakistani former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has written a letter to the U.N. and human rights organizations decrying a widespread “conspiracy against women.”

“There is an all-compassing conspiracy against women … in the name of Islam,” Bhutto’s letter read. “Our society today is in the hands of fundamentalists who are openly opposed to women having any rights and any chance of justice,” she wrote.

Prominent Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jehangir has also spoken out against women’s rights abuses in Pakistan. Jehangir witnessed Imran’s murder and escaped a bullet that was meant to kill her for helping Imran.

Imran’s parents killed their daughter Samia after she fled her home to seek a divorce, an act which the family viewed as a disgrace. Although such “honor killings” are common in the region, Imran’s murder has become a high-profile case, mostly likely because the murder took place in Jehangir’s office.

Jehangir has received death threats since the shooting. Public advertisement have urged the public to “punish” her for providing women with legal services and shelter. Large newspaper advertisements placed by radical Islamic fundamentalists have condemned women’s shelters for encouraging women’s independence, which they consider anti-Islamic.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, who investigates violence against women for the U.N., urged the U.N. Human Rights Commission to “urge the government of Pakistan to take a serious view of honor killings and support crisis centers for women victims of honor crimes.” Coomaraswamy also urged the government to provide protection for Asma Jehangier and her colleagues.

Both of Imran’s parents have confessed to plotting their daughter’s murder and women’s groups have held protests demanding their prosecution. So far, no arrests have been made. Past Stories: Women’s, Human Rights Groups Protest “Honor Killings” Pakistan: Family Orders Daughter Killed Over Divorce


AP - April 13, 1999

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