Somewhere in the hinterland of Pakistan, there was a girl who exceptionally got the opportunity to get education in a city. When she went back to home in the village this time, her intentional disregard for the burqa, created the furor among the elite villagers. Her advocacy for education for other girls made the situation inflammable. She was adamant on her stance and would face the village elites with eye-to-eye contact, that puzzled the other girls and women who could not even imagine this. This extreme absurdity of the girl along with her growing influence became the big headache for the elites whose hegemony was unchallenged for decades.
The village was about to adapt with the eccentricity of the girl when a militant hailing from the region came home after many years. As soon as he heard about the girl, he gave no second thought and gave his verdict: she should be stoned to death right now. But the village youths had still brighter ideas regarding how to deal with her. Finally everything was planned well.
The other evening, the ‘city-dweller’ girl was teaching a group of girl children how to write Urdu alphabets.
“Just let the other children go. Then we will execute.” A boy murmured to others in a group of six boys after peering inside the room through the window. “It will get darker also by then. It will be better”. Somebody answered. “In the name of allah, we should teach the lesson to the other girls as well. No need to wait anymore. We are obeying the order of almighty to eliminate the infidels”. The militant spoke in a decisive voice and stepped forward.
After entering the room, he ordered all of the children to go out, who hurried as they saw the lethal weapon lying across his back.
“How dare you disobey the god? You were brainwashed by infidels on the city and came here to spoil the young minds. They are killing our people all over the world and you come to this village as their agent, for this immoral act, no punishment will be enough, still we are going to try one. Would you like to be shot or otherwise?” the militant almost shouted these words in half Urdu and half Arabic while pointing the rifle to her.
This all occurred so swiftly and unexpectedly that the girl was confused. Was this the reality? A man who was never seen in the village earlier was now threatening her life. She took a long breath as if to assimilate the significance of developments.
“How exactly am I disobeying the god?” She asked in trembling voice “and who are you to judge this?”
“Your damned teaching of the young girls with the propaganda education of the infidels is bound to ruin our sacred culture and religion. They have taught you to altercate with the village elders. I am here to enforce the holy laws of our shari’at court. Would you like to bear the ugly death right now or after one hour?” he once again pointed the rifle to her forehead.
“There is no law in this ruined land and you can shot me if you want. But what you are doing is in the blatant violation of the Allah’s teachings and he will never forgive you.” She tried to be more composed and raised her voice. “Your barbaric acts will be ultimately judged by the almighty and you will suffer for inhuman injustice that you are cultivating. Killing one will never deter our determination for justice……”
“Enough, Enough”. The militant banged his foot twice in the floor, speaking in English this time. “You deserve a death worse than shooting and that will teach you how to fight for your damned justice”.
He then signaled with hands to other boys, four of whom entered, caught the girl in hand and began dragging. He came out of the room, fired twice in the air to remind the villagers not to interfere on the matter. In the dark, the fainting shrieks of the girls were heard. Otherwise, the silence and thus peace prevailed in the village.
The other day, the girl was at her home but barely alive as the group of six had raped and assaulted her throughout the night taking care not to kill her outright. She had been given a lifeline: if she can perfectly contain this news by shutting her mouth, she won’t be killed. But this was impossible for the rebellious girl. She would rather die than suffering this humiliation quitly.
On the fifth day, a group of heavily armed militants arrived in the village and an important announcement was made: Everybody in the village should turn up on the ground of local mosque the next day at 12:00 noon for a special event.
In the ground the other day, a turbaned man stood on a makeshift stage with machine gun led militants on his either side. Then he began his fierce speech that was somehow a new occurrence to that village. “With grace of the almighty, today we have come here to perform a sacred task, the task, indispensible to maintain the morality and the ethics. We should punish those who trespass the rule of god without mercy so that nobody will dare to do so again. What can be such a punishment? The adulterers who defame the glory of married life, who challenge the omnipresence of the almighty and who threaten to break the sacred laws are to be punished that way.”
The speech was interrupted by shrill crying of the girl who was rapped in a red-line-on-white cloth, being dragged by three militants.
“In name of the sacred almighty”, the speech continued, “ we are going to teach a lesson to all the adulterers this way.” The preacher took a stone from a bag kept under the table and so did all the others militants. He then threw the stone to the girl who appeared to be tied inside the cloth. That followed a series of stones one after another. The villagers stood almost frozen as the girl first yelled violently and finally everything became fainter and fainter till few militants fired in air in celebration.
I constructed the plot of this story from a recent news story from Pakistan in which a girl was stoned to death for ‘adulteration’ after being gang-raped. To create the final seen I have taken help from the movie ‘The Kite runner’ based on Khaled Hosseini’s novel which vividly depicts the life in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. For the social background I was offered some help by the documentary ‘Swara: A Bridge Over Troubled Water’ directed by Samar Minallah. This film explores the age old tradition in Pakistan in which a bloody dispute between two families is settled by getting the daughter of the murderer to any of the family member of the victim. This innocent girl then incurs the wrath of her new family and suffers a tragic fate for whole life.
This story attempts to start a serious discourse on another most controversial issue: Justice. Just like the human rights, it has got different meanings in different contexts and even in a single context for different people. ‘Justice’ has been the motive behind almost all of the insurgencies and conflicts around the world. Nobody advocates against it but it has been the most battered virtue in the modern world.
In the story above, the justice for the educated girl means the respect to the rights of people to live a dignified life. This dignity, for women, comes from abolition of the masculine and the feudal hegemony in the issues like how one should live. This, in turn, comes from a non-extremist education that gives knowledge and promotes skills helping the women to be economically self-reliant. This needs to challenge some of the established norms in the society like the taboo for educating the daughters.
On the other hand, justice for the militants comes only when the Shari’at laws can be Implemented throughout the world after crushing the infidels who have spoiled the once-sacred empire of the god by promoting nudity, adultery, blasphemy and atheism. Demolishing the institution of the infidels to avoid their influence from poisoning the faithful masses is thus the only way to achieve the justice. The girl in the story formed a prototype of a poisoned soul intent on poisoning the others in her village to upset the sacred tradition. Thus she became the biggest threat in establishing the justice.
In the confrontation between the two opposite saviors of the justice, the far more powerful militants prevailed over the poor girl resulting in her brutal murder preceded by the gang rape that illustrates the hidden aspect of the drive of the extremists to justice. One way or the other, the girl was to be killed once she dared to educate other girls defying the taboo, but the episode of rape was created to teach other potential defectors how the issue could be dealt practically. Also, any potential victim of the rape would also know how she would be dealt in case she was unable to comply the threats to keep the matters hidden. This practically assures many of the prospective rapists the impunity leading to scores of untold stories of rape.