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Honour and a shallow grave

    Honour and a shallow grave
     

    Deemed to restore the tarnished reputation of a husband or family, so-called honour killings are rarer today in Afghanistan. But they still occur and highlight the darker sides of family and community relations. One village in Badakhshan is now at the centre of a police investigation over the suspected honour killing of a young woman over her stormy marriage.

    Neighbours stand by Zakera's deserted home. Rocks surround the earth patch where police unearthed her body. Main photo: A villager shows the plain grave where she was reburied with no prayers by the community. (Photos: Usmani) 

    The village of Sarai in Badakhshan’s Keshim District holds a dark secret. It may be the secret of one person or one family, or the entire population, but it centres on an unmarked grave where a woman’s body was recently recovered by police.

    With the investigation still underway, authorities are allowing two firm suppositions. Firstly, that the body found buried beside a house in Sarai is that of a young woman Zakera who had lived there. And that her death was the product of one of the darker sides of Afghan community relations and ancient law.

    “Zakera’s murder was an honour killing,” Abdul Salaam Payaam, the governor of Keshim District, told Afghanistan Today, confident of this version even while the murder remains unsolved.

    However, due to the extent of putrefaction of the remains, the exact cause of her death will never be established. “In Keshim District, there is no section for forensic medicine so we could not do any investigation into Zakera’s case,” said Dr. Naemat, director of the district hospital. “We returned it to the people of the village and, from her body, we could not tell how she was killed.”


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    Honour and a shallow grave

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