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Honour killing

By Wania Laraib

Honour killing is mostly the murder of a woman or girl by male family members. The killers justify their actions by claiming that the victim has brought dishonour to the family name.

Women are considered as the most oppressed group in the Pakistani society. Almost every day there are stories in newspapers reporting horrible crimes against women, such as acid throwing, Vani, domestic violence, child marriages, bride burning, rape, human trafficking, and even killing in the name of honour.

Honour killing in Pakistan has increased in the past 20 years and it may increase in the future. Honour killing is basically killing innocent women, if she disobeys the family or goes against their will. Islam has given right to every woman to choose the man she wants to marry. Forcing a woman to marry a man whom she dislikes is itself is a hideous deed, let alone killing her for disobeying is nothing more than a cold blooded murder.

In Pakistan patriarchal culture is followed where domestic violence is considered as routine practice to control woman and make them obey their male comrades. For them killing women for deeds which offend their manhood or in other words reputation is not unusual for Pakistani men.

Although honour killing is a worldwide phenomena but it is extremely shocking to see that one-fifth of the total honour killings in the world occur in Pakistan. According to United Nations Population Fund (UNDP), among 5000 women who lose their lives annually in the name of honour all around the world, nearly a 1000 are killed in Pakistan only.

Moreover, a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) reveals that in 2015 alone, nearly 1100 women were killed in the country by their relatives for dishonouring families and allegedly violating cultural values on love and marriage. But these facts and figures on honour killing are not credible because most of the cases are unreported or considered as suicide, natural death or accidents.

These customs and traditions are more violent in tribal societies because of their traditions. As a matter of fact, in the tribal areas of Pakistan where such practices are not even recognized as crime rather it is considered as a punishment for those who break the tribal codes.

Women and girls are killed on the name of honour even when they are being raped such as in 1999, a 16 years old girls was killed in NWFP as she was raped. Jirga decided to kill her as they thought she had brought shame to the family and the honour of the family can only be restored if she is killed. This is just one example there are multiple such cases that happen every year in our country.

Although honour killing has no room in Islam and the religious scholars also condemn this practice but as most of the cases of honour killings occur in Muslim countries the west has labelled it as an Islamic phenomena.

In October 2016 an anti-honour killing bill was passed to protect women against the so-called male honour in Pakistan. By passing this law for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the government endeavoured to grant a death penalty to any person who commits murder in the name of honour killing. By passing this law, it was anticipated that Qisas and Diyat laws will no longer be applicable in cases of honour killing.

Although this law was a hope for many but it failed to eradicate this menace. This shows the failure of law and other governmental bodies in eradicating this social evil and also shows that such things can’t be eradicated just by passing law but these require the transformation on the society and change in the sick mind sets of people and by giving women equal rights and treating them as human beings rather than as personal property of men.

This article is written by WaniaLaraib. She is the student of Institute of communication studies, PU, Lahore. She can be reached at wanialaraib.1998@gmail.com

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