Arifa, a mother of two, has been stoned to death on the orders of Panchayat for possessing a cell phone. She was executed on July 11, 2013 in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan in the Punjab. The victim was stoned to death by her uncle and relatives on the orders of Panchayat after she was found to have a mobile phone.
According to media reports her uncle, cousins and other relatives threw stones and bricks at her until she died. She was buried without informing anyone. Police registered a FIR against the Panchayat but no one has been arrested. She was buried in a desert far away from her village and nobody (not even her children) was allowed to participate in the funeral. Her husband is unknown.
The incident is a clear reflection of the total collapse of the rule of law in the country, where every section of the government has become utterly redundant in the face of tribal, feudal and religious traditions. The local police have not arrested the members of the Panchayat because the power in the area lies with the landed aristocracy.
Stoning to death is a barbaric act from a primitive society. Society is sent the message that violence is the way to deal with women and other vulnerable groups. Women’s rights are negated through the use of these forms of punishment.
Pakistani society has degenerated to the point that, for a woman, keeping a cell phone has become serious crime. It is treated as a worse crime than gang rape, murder and bomb blasts, through which many people are killed on a daily basis.
The Panchayat is common in rural areas of Punjab, where landed aristocracy and centuries old tribal traditions rule. These practices are commonly used against women so that their tribal norms remain pure and intact. The Panchayat system is so powerful that the ‘independent judiciary’ still has not shown the courage to declare it illegal.
What Arifa’s death shows us is the real system of justice in many parts of Pakistan. Local ruling is done by feudal bodies with complete impunity. There is no enforcement of the law by the judiciary, police or any other governing institution. It is more than the absence of the rule of law; it is an airless vacuum claiming many victims, in which the police – charged with the duty of enforcing the law – are hired thugs who torture and detain people at the request of powerful parties, please see the cases of two sisters, murdered in June 2013, 25 days apart, for daring to ask the courts for justice; http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAU-020-2013