No honour in ‘honour killing’

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In an awful incident of ‘honour killing’, a man shot dead his sister within the premises of a court in Multan. The woman died on the spot while her husband and the lawyer were critically injured. The man killed his sister over her love marriage Honour Killing- homicide against women has increased tremendously and it tends to increase even more in the foreseeable future. To kill an innocent woman for simply forbidding her family’s wishes is nothing short of cold-blooded murder. Never a day passes without reports, usually several, of women being killed by their spouses or other members of their family for reasons of so-called ‘honour.’ If they are not killed then they may find themselves raped in revenge for a crime or misdemeanor committed by a male relative, the ‘sentence’ of rape being delivered by a jirga or panchayat. It would be a mistake to believe that these acts of violence against women were committed exclusively in rural or poor and uneducated communities. Honour killing remains an unsolved issue as the existing laws and their implementation have failed to stop this evil that still continues without any fear. A compromise have been recorded in 99.99 percent cases of honour killing till date due to which the culprits escape unpunished, say lawyers and human rights activists. Since, a person, mostly woman are killed for bringing so called shame to the family/ society, thus people accept the loss of a life to save the family from further dishonour which the innocent victim brought. Aurat Foundation says so far 200 honour killings have been recorded this year, mainly from Punjab. Only one case of survived victim in rural Punjab has preceded with 10 year imprisonment to the convict a month ago. Other cases are mutually settled when the complainants, mostly relatives of the victims, forgive the killer. More than 90 percent of women honour killings are committed by the victims’ own families. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) database recorded 987 honour crime cases. Mostly, firearms were used for killing and current/ former spouses were recorded as the prime suspects of those crimes. HRCP also recorded that the predominant marital status of the victims was either married or separated. Statistics released by Ministry of Human Rights recorded 860 honour killings from January 2012 to September 2016. Punjab records 75 % of the total recorded honour killings of the country. A research study says that 73% Pakistanis view that discriminatory customary practices have contributed in honour crimes. These practices are the second biggest factor in honour killings, says the report. Human rights activists and lawyers have been pointing out loop holes in the Pakistan’s criminal justice system in the context of honour killings. In Pakistan’s patriarchal society, a woman’s life is taken for granted. That is why; families mostly choose to take blood money as murder compensation against their daughters’ lives instead of death penalty /life imprisonment. Meanwhile, HR experts say that whether by design or crude neglect, the government is complicit as well, as in the last year local entities such as jirgas and panchayats have been empowered to resolve disputes in an effort to ‘free up’ a clogged legal system. Legislation by itself is worthless without effective enforcement, as well as a shift in the paradigm that nurtures the so-called ‘honour’ offences. There is no sign of that happening. Despite greater strides by the female lot in various fields of life, the collective condition of women’s rights is still pathetic in our society, reason being we have not change our psyche towards women’s rights. As a matter of fact, for a society that has long shunned its women in the public sphere and dealt them innumerable forms of injustice and abuse, we can reverse this by empowering more women through recruitment into law-enforcement agencies. Legal experts and HR activists say cases such as rape, honour killings and acid attacks against women need to be viewed through the perspective of women as often male police officers become barriers to justice by sending disheartened families back home. In October last year, after a controversial rise in honour killing within and outside families like Qandeel Baloch, Tasleem being killed by their brothers claiming that “Girls are born to be at home and follow the traditions only”, Government of Pakistan passed a law against honour killings. Now, according to that law, a killer will have to face 25 years of imprisonment, and also DNA test will be practiced to determine the intensity of suffering the victim has gone through and the amount of imprisonment the rapist should receive. However, it is yet to be examined that on which scale this law will get implemented. Almost a year had passed and still a number of women continue to get killed in Pakistan in the name of ‘honour’. Still, there is a dire need to understand the changes taking place in our society in the form of girl’s education, working women and even free-will marriages. For this, the most important role is that of the media and the more liberal right-wing groups in society. We can hope that they can mutually change the minds of extremists – found in different parts of Pakistan.

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