Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Pakistani council aproves rape to avenge honour. "A village council in Pakistan permitted a landlord to rape the sister and sister-in-law of a man he accused of an illicit relationship with his daughter, police said Thursday. (...) The council members, all of them landlords themselves, ruled that Ghaffar, who uses only one name, could avenge his honour by having sex with the farmer's daughter, who is 16, and daughter-in-law, who is 22." (BBC version here). "An estimated 80 percent of women prisoners in Pakistan are in jail because they failed to prove rape charges".
This is totally disgusting. Is my blog becoming depressing lately, or is it just the state of the world?


Goddamn barbarians.

That's not new, Joi. It's happened before in Pakistan. See: (or google "Pakistan rape honor"). It's the ages old story of taking religious text and use it to justify your actions (which also applies to Bush, btw...).

And, yeah, the world's looking like deep pile of shit more and more. I was pretty damn optimistic when the new century started, but I guess a bit too much...

A village council is nothing more than a group of powerful village elders who gang up as a mob and do whatever they please.

They are not above the law. The individual involved in the previous internationally published episode were arrested and sentenced.

However, that still doesn't mean that they don't get away with it. I'm sure there are a lot who get away with it due to corruption .etc., but this isn't a case of using religious text to justify your action versus how some use the Quran to justify honor killing but either haven't never read the book nor had a proper education.

Its pure and simple mob action. There is no such thing as religiously sanctioned rape. A perversion of the honor system that i despise.

Its something that has always been an issue and subject of concern in Pakistan, and numerous human/women rights organizations continue to work on it to this day.

Rather than whether the world itself is more depressing, I'd say it's more an issue of information flow.

Not to downplay the actual events that took place, but this feels like the kind of story that the Media loves to report. This doesn't require much effort, on either the reporter's behalf or the reader's, as there is little in the story to educate the reader any number of issues such aswomen's rights in Pakistan, whether religious texts actually approve of this kind of punishment, or, as the posters above indicate, on what authority the village council is acting upon. The story is guaranteed to provoke an emotional response, such as "Goddamn barbarians", and appeal to preconceived notions that the (westernized) reader likely holds. Then, both the reader and the reporter move on to the next tidbit. Why else would the finale of a TV series be major headlines in the US media all week?

I actually learned more from the other replies to this entry than I did from the actual entry itself.

Actually, I almost ALWAYS learn more from the comments on my blog than from the initial research (or lack thereof) that I do before I post. I know everyone says, "read before you write", but I really think this participatory discussion is much more interesting than me doing a lot of work before-hand and although the dynamics that you describe (emotional responses) exist, I think most of the comments have turned into fairly constructive discussions lately.

Having said that, I will try to improve my research before I post. Sometimes I just don't have time and shoot from the hip, but I think people are calling me on that more and more...

Joi, i dont see anything wrong with what you posted and your idea of participatory discussion.

i believe you get called on your posts only because you have an audience that expects a lot from you and not everybody has the time to do the research. I certainly don't. I've curtailed the amount of lengthy posts i used to do on my weblog.

However, a better idea would be to setup a seperate page with a notice about your weblogging style. i.e. you prefer participatory discussion .etc. so that you can atleast attempt to inform your audience of your style and thus maybe allow them to align their expectations.

I always have this picture of the "village council" where bunch of guys sit in a circle under a tree while the elders sit above on a charpai (a woven/wooden bed) deliberating or ganging up on someone they had their eye on for so long as in the case above.

It's the state of the world, sorry. Maybe the cockroaches will have better luck...

Welcome to Democracy!!!

its the state of the world Joi.. =/

I think your blog of late has felt a bit more disjointed then it previously did. You tend to flit from thought to thought none of them particularly well considered. Comments are almost incidental. This may be a bit of a stretch but your blog does tends to often feel like a kind catharthis or therapy for you.

This of course is the fundamental issue with blogs in general.


Hehe. Yes, it is a bit of a catharthis/therapy for me. It's hard not to flit from thought to thought though... But I feel like I'm soliciting opinions where before I felt more like I was talking to myself.

I can definitely feel how my mood affects the tone of the blog though. But as you point out, I think this is a fundamental issue with blogs.

No Joi, this is the unfortunate state of the world. From what I know, practices like these have been common for quite a while in some rural and backward areas of Pakistan. It's only now that the word is starting to get out and action being taken against such brutalities.

In some tribal areas, a killing is avenged by taking a girl from the killer's family in marriage (and making the rest of her life hell). This just seems to be the same thing albeit without the religious cover.

With more and more cases coming out in the open, things are starting to improve, but much more needs to be done.

Joi, I didn't mean to imply more research on your part, as I agree that the conversations through posting that are initiated by your posts have significant value and can provide real insight. My concern is in the lack of initial research and context provided in the actual articles that the primary reporters do (or don't do, in many cases), and how this affects the impressions of readers, especially those who may not have sufficient background on the subject matter. I would expect that the average reader isn't familiar enough with Pakistani village councils to be appropriately critical of these news articles. Of the three, only the Daily Times article actually provides any real substance. After I finished the articles, I had the impression that these were legally sanctioned entities by the government and backed up by Islamic texts. Why couldn't Retuers or the BBC have included a clearly worded paragraph or two on the nature of these groups?

And I don't believe it should fall to Joi to have to do that research, but I do believe and expect it in published news articles. But perhaps my expectations are too high, especially in this age of the 24/7 news cycle?

The tribal council is an institution that goes back to traditional
forms of conflict resolution through mediation; it is not part of the
judicial system. It has no legal standing but persists as a council
of elders that passes informal judgements seeking compromise
solutions in local disputes. There are no uniform terms of reference
for the council, and there is no legislation governing it.

Amnesty International is concerned about reports that village
councils have illegally tried and sentenced people to cruel, inhuman
and degrading punishments.

Of course, it doesn't matter what actual legal authority they have, as they seem to be able to operate above the law. And apparently get away with it.

If your blog is getting depressing, it is because you choose to stare unflinchingly into the frightening abyss that is the state of the world.

It's the state of the world. Now, that out of the way, I have to say that I doubt the world is getting worse. Oh, maybe a little worse in the "western world" compared to, say, 20-30 years ago what with the current trend towards cutting back some rights that people took for granted even a short while ago. But that gets averaged out by the fall of (most of) the eastern dictatorships.

I just don't think it's getting worse when you compare all of history. There may even be overall improvement. But this kind of shit has been going on for millenia. Thanks to modern communication technology we just hear more of what's going on in it.

Its better sex than honor killing.

It's depressing, but it's not just you. There seem to be a lot of depressing things going on....

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Pakistan OK's rape as revenge from
May 9, 2004 1:51 PM

I'm two days late on this, but it's worth noting: Pakistani council approves honour rapes The council members, all of them landlords themselves, ruled that Ghaffar, who uses only one name, could avenge his honour by having sex with the farmer's daughte... Read More

Pakistan OK's rape as revenge from
May 9, 2004 1:53 PM

I'm two days late on this, but it's worth noting: Pakistani council approves honour rapes The council members, all of them landlords themselves, ruled that Ghaffar, who uses only one name, could avenge his honour by having sex with the farmer's daughte... Read More

I'm two days late on this, but it's worth noting: Pakistani council approves honour rapes The council members, all of them landlords themselves, ruled that Ghaffar, who uses only one name, could avenge his honour by having sex with the farmer's daughte... Read More