Afzal Kohistani left, but his fight against Kohistan’s ‘choar’ custom must go on

Afzal Kohistani (on the right) speaking to media, telling about threats he is receiving
Pictured on January 27, 2019 –
Photo by Umar Bacha

He feared for his life, he wrote to authorities many times that he is receiving life threats and will meet the same fate as his brothers. He was the whistleblower of infamous Kohistan honour killing scandal. Back in 2012, five women were killed in the name of honour in Kohistan because they appeared in a grainy cellphone video, clapping and enjoying, at a wedding while a man danced.

In the video, the women can be seen only clapping while their heads still covered in dupatta. But they paid a heavy price for it. Afzal Kohistani became the whistleblower of this case, exposed it in front of the world and lead a heroic fight against Kohistan’s ”choar” custom.
Choar system is a form of ‘honour’ killings peculiar to the area. Under this system, any man or woman who interacts with the opposite sex becomes liable to death.

Also See: With Afzal Kohistani’s murder ends his heroic fight against honour killing – who holds the torch now?

Kohistani spent years in hiding, from one place to another, with no permanent place to call home. He had to leave his native village, his house was set ablaze and three brothers were murdered. In his last days, he feared he will be murdered as well and repeatedly spoke about it. After his death, ninth and the final victim declared ”choar” by the jirga has been killed.

“I am being punished because I stood up against the evil of the choar custom in our society. People kill their women in the name of honour and such deaths are not even taken to court,”  – he said, earlier this year speaking to a local news source. 

Kohistani said that he wants to fight against this custom so the coming generations don’t have to suffer. Kohistan is famous for the horrifying cases of honour killing and has a shameful history in it.

“The ratio of honour-related deaths not reported is much higher than those cases which are reported in these districts, but nobody is ready to raise their voice to end this centuries-old practice,” says a man settled in the area.

Afzal Kohistani, till his last breath, fought against the brutal custom. But what happens now? We could not save him but we can preserve his struggle. The fight against honour killing and every brutal practice of such nature must go on.

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