Pakistani campaigners say they have made contact with two out of five women previously feared murdered for singing in a wedding video.
Dr Farzana Bari met the two women after travelling with officials to a remote village in north-west Pakistan.The team did not meet the other three women, but said local elders had given assurances that they were also alive.Earlier reports said a tribal court sentenced all five to death after the footage aired on Pakistani TV.
The women had also reportedly been condemned for watching men dancing at the celebration. The men in the video appeared in court on Wednesday charged with creating the conditions for tribal violence.The decree was allegedly issued by tribal elders for the women to be killed because it was thought their actions brought dishonour to their community, which disapproves of men and women dancing together.
After several hours climbing, human rights activists – travelling with local officials – say the two women appeared relaxed, and did not show any signs of physical ill-treatment.”If these two are alive, I believe the others are as well,” campaigner Farzana Bari told the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Islamabad.Dr Bari said that the other three women were at a more remote location that could not be reached easily.She said that she believed there had been no death sentence from a tribal council, but there was a real risk to the women because the wedding video had been widely seen.
“There’s a strong tradition in this area of taking the law into your own hands,” she said. “The authorities should keep on monitoring the women. There is still a risk, we cannot relax.”Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered officials to go to the area on Wednesday to establish if the women were alive or dead.The video, first circulated about two months ago, shows four women sitting on the floor of a room, chatting and singing wedding songs while clapping their hands. A fifth woman is said have been involved.
Also seen in it are two young brothers, one of whom dances to the sound of the women’s song. The other films the video, at one point turning the camera to himself.The village is at least two days’ journey on foot from the nearest highway, and only helicopters can reach the area quickly. – BBC