Two Young Girls And Mother Brutally Murdered For… Dancing In The Rain

Progress cannot come soon enough for Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, but hopefully it can come before other smiling girls are killed for enjoying a rainfall. Image @DailyMailUK

Progress cannot come soon enough for Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, but hopefully it can come before other smiling girls are killed for dancing in the rain. Image @DailyMailUK

As women here in America deal with the continuing battle for equality, physical safety, and health and reproductive freedoms, there is something very sobering about realizing the status of women in other parts of the world teeters on such a brutal edge of violence and irrational oppression. No case could make the point more clearly than the recent report of two young sisters and their mother who were shot to death for the egregious act of… dancing in the rain.

The tragic story is one we’ve heard too often: of women in Middle Eastern countries who are ruled by men and laws that view them as chattel to be controlled, demeaned and, in some cases, murdered for the sake of “honor.” This particular story began six months ago in Pakistan with two irrepressible young sisters, Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, aged 15 and 16, who, as children of a retired police officer, were compliant with traditional dress laws, but remained delighted by such things as a rainfall on a winter day.

As you can see from the photo above, with raindrops soaking their veiled heads, they smiled and danced outside their home in Chilas, in the northern part of Gilgit, Pakistan. There were reportedly two other younger children dancing along with them and it seems one of the participants – or perhaps their mother – used a phone to make a video of the playful moment. The smiling face of the girl looking directly into the camera can only be interpreted as pure, youthful joy.

An American might ask, what could possible be deemed wrong or offensive with this? The answer: it dared become public. And by becoming public, it ‘shamed’ the family. From The Daily Mail UK:

When the footage was circulated via mobile phones, it caused outrage in the conservative Pakistani town.

Last Sunday the girls were shot alongside their mother in their home by five gunmen.

Police are investigating whether the attack was arranged by the girls’ step-brother, named as Khutore, who allegedly wanted to ‘restore the family’s honour’ according to The Sunday Times.

The sisters’ other brother has filed a case against Khutore and the four other alleged accomplices who are now believed to be on the run.

So in the blink of an eye, two teenaged girls and their mother are wiped off the face of the earth by “five masked men who barged into their house and opened fire.” For the audacity of dancing in the rain. The image is all the more heartbreaking in light of that gut-wrenching information.

While the initial police investigation does suggest their deaths were ordered by the girls’ stepbrother, other theories are being floated, as well:

…Police officers have also warned against jumping to conclusions before the full investigation is complete. They say they are also examining whether a property dispute or an audio clip – in which the girls are apparently heard talking to an unknown man – might be responsible. [Source]

Whatever the reason, women – and men – the world over are horrified at yet another killing of women for no sane reason at all. It is noted that over 900 women were killed in Pakistan in a year for alleged acts of “dishonor,” determined by fathers, brothers, husbands; men whose view of women includes the belief that their lives are meaningless in the face of arbitrary and often fabricated acts determined to be shameful:

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said at least 943 women and girls were murdered in 2011 for allegedly defaming their family’s honour.

According to women’s rights group, the Aurat Foundation, about 1,000 ‘honour’ killings take place in Pakistan every year.

The statistics highlight the scale of violence suffered by many women in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where they are frequently treated as second-class citizens. [Source]

Of course, we well remember the fate of one Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, whose desire to see young girls in her country allowed access to an education was met by gunmen who shot her on a school bus in a failed attempt to end her life and her mission. She not only survived, but has flourished to continue on behalf of young women just like her.

One can only hope that efforts like Malala’s, and others who are fighting to create stability and safety for women in countries all over the world, continue to not only find solid ground, but collaborative partners and organizations to meet the needs and propel the progress of this most necessary cause.

Progress cannot come soon enough for Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, but hopefully it can come before any other smiling, joyful young girls are killed for the simple act of dancing in the rain.

Organizations helping women in Pakistan:

• Madre: We advance women’s human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to crisis.

• Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation: a civil society organisation committed to work for women’s empowerment and citizens’ participation in governance for creating a socially just, democratic and humane society in Pakistan.

Help Women Pakistan: Facebook

Shirkat Gah:  a non-hierarchical women’s Collective to integrate consciousness raising with a development perspective, and to initiate projects translating advocacy into action

Vital Voices: The Malala Fund