Underage girls trapped in Pakistan bride exchanges

Published

Dec. 30, 2016

From the reporter:

When we told of the underage marriage, where a teenager was married to a man three times her age in exchange for a bride for her father, we saw the modern day impact of crushing poverty, ignorance and centuries-old tradition. At the losing end we found the young girls, most often seen as burdens by their parents and punishment for a wife who had no sons. We defied restrictions that said ‘no foreigners allowed,’ interviewed the teenage bride as well as her mentally and physically challenged husband. We travelled to her father who sought to explain his decisions and the two wives, one who offered herself so her handicapped brother could have a wife, and anther who accepted a second wife for her husband because she had given him only daughters.

A Pakistani girl is snatched away, payment for a family debt

Published

Dec. 23, 2016

From the reporter:

In the story of the 14 year old Hindu girl taken to pay off a debt, forcibly converted to Islam and married to her kidnapper, we saw the horrors of Pakistan’s impoverished who fight, often unsuccessfully for justice in a system skewed in favor of the rich and powerful. But we also saw the bravery of the women who fight on their behalf, a woman who was herself a modern day slave, escaped and now devotes her life to freeing others from bonded labor. We confronted a hostile police, went to areas unaccompanied by police to seek out the truth of earlier statements made in their presence and witnessed scores of families who had escaped the bonds of the big landlords.

“I had to:” Inside the mind of an ‘honor’ killer in Pakistan

Published

Oct. 3, 2016

From the reporter:

When we told the story of the brother who killed his sister we had to hide our video camera and still cameras from the military who forbade any photography or video or even the equipment in the area where we were going to interview the killer. But we wanted his face, his words, his expression on camera to tell in his own words what made him take a pistol and shoot his sister once in the head. She died immediately. It was a rare insight into the mind of one who could kill in the so-called name of “honor.”

We had to hide our video camera and still cameras from the military who forbade any photography or video or even the equipment in the area where we were going to interview the killer.

We heard of the peer pressure, searched out and found those who had pushed him over the edge with their taunts, listened and recorded what their thinking was, struggled to understand the why of their taunts and the brother’s eventual decision to kill a sister he said he loved.

A star rises from poverty, is killed defying Pakistan norms

Published

Aug. 8, 2016

From the reporter:

To tell the story of Qandeel, a social media sensation killed by her brother, we travelled to the deep South of Pakistan’s Punjab province, where militant jihadists, who loathe all that is western have training camps, passed a sign that said “no foreigners allowed beyond this point.” Many had told the story of Qandeel’s death, killed by her brother for offending his family’s “honor” with her often racey videos, but no foreign, or even Pakistani journalist, working for a foreign news organization, had travelled deep into the repressive region from which she came. But it was by traveling there that we were able to uncover the person beneath the social media persona, discover the abuse she had suffered, burned by her ex-husband, ostracized by her village, saw the poverty from which she came.

2 women unite to take ‘honor’ out of killing in Pakistan

Published

Oct. 31, 2016

From the reporter:

In the backstreets on the edge of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city of 20 million people we found a woman grotesquely deformed by a vicious acid attack. To breathe she had to wedge a bent straw into both her nostrils to keep them apart.

Her home was in an area where ethnic Pashtuns from the tribal regions dominate, an area most often off limits even to police because Taliban who have fled military operations in their tribal regions. But there is where our victim lived and we went to search her out, listened as she recalled the horrific day that a would-be suitor outraged by her refusal to entertain her marriage proposal threw acid in her face. Her pain was excruciating.

When we started doing these stories there was some outrage but most of it from the women’s rights groups, but as we dug deeper, told the different stories, the outrage grew, the tide was turning in Pakistan.

As we dug deeper, told the different stories, the outrage grew, the tide was turning in Pakistan.

Several gruesome incidences of “honor” killings had exploded onto the front pages of newspapers, a proliferation of television channels in the many languages native to Pakistan and a burgeoning over social media was causing widespread outrage. Parliamentarians for the first time were challenging edicts of a conservative Council of Islamic Ideology, which advises Parliament on its laws, some even calling for it to be disbanded.

Then a bill that would remove a loophole created by a religious law in force in Pakistan, a bill that had been ignored, buried, was resurrected to guarantee those who kill in the name of “honor” are punishished.

Two women — one Harvard educated, the other religiously conservative, hidden behind the all encompassing burqa — came together to make the bill a law. We told their story.