Increase in ‘honour killings’

By Saleem Aazar

The increase in so-called ‘honour killings’ in Pakistan is giving bad name to the reputation of the country in the eyes of the world and it is need of the hour to check the criminals and outlaws who are brutally targetting and killing women in the name of ‘honour’ and ‘respect’.

In recent days as the killings got increased, the opinion maker used to suggest to deal the violators of human rights with the iron hand. A lot of suggestions were made and political leaders of the country had also emphasized to formulate anti-terrorism laws but nothing happened in practical terms.

A study of grave violations of human rights in Pakistan show that the incidents of eliminating poor women by cutting their throats, burning and shooting them brutally have increased. This all has happened in the name of ‘honour’ on the part of certain men of this rather men-based society that sets the values of honour from the eye of men. An expert on law said it was a clear violation of right to life and that should only be addressed by application of laws and provisions dealing with certain Sections of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

It may be mentioned over here that as a famous social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was allegedly strangled in Multan by her own brother in the name of ‘honour’ that had created great resentment among the people. It seemed at that time that the rulers would move ahead in regard to the reframing of laws and effective legal steps to restrain all those who have such frame of mind and could take extreme steps to punish their family members; especially daughters. Yet no concrete action could be taken by the rulers and that was ironic indeed.

Some lawyers suggest that all those that back and facilitate or motivate the killers should be tried under the same laws. In a very recent incident, the innocent women were attacked by the criminals with sharp-edge dagger. The incidents of acid throwing have also been reported in order to victimize poor women because their refusal to forced marriages.

In some of the incidents took place in this year, the women were not killed in a heat of passion in the name of ‘honour’ but they were tempted with promises and were killed finally under a plan. Such incidents cannot be defined as the killings that happened under the heart of passion but they were planned cold-blooded murders.

In such a threatening situation, some lawyers and opinion makers suggest that the cases of such killings should be tried in the Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATCs).

Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 deals with the punishments for those involved in terrorist activities. The law underlines that whoever commits an act of terrorism under Section 6 that causes death of any person should be punishable, on conviction, with death or with imprisonment for life, and with fine. The law even asks to punish the accused who did not anything likely to cause death or endangers life, but death or hurt is not caused.

Sub Section of this law (c) says “Grievous bodily harm or injury is caused to any person, shall be punishable, on conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten years but may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to a fine; or

(d) Grievous damage to property is caused, shall be punishable on conviction, with imprisonment, of either description for a term not less than ten years but may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to a fine; or

(e) The offence of kidnapping for ransom or hostage-taking has been committed, shall be punishable, on conviction, with death or imprisonment for life.”

In several cases, the women were kidnapped or tempted with their respectable marriages but instead they were brutally killed into pieces or burnt alive by hatching conspiracy against the very right to life of these kidnapped women.

A human right activist and Executive Director Foundation for Research and Human Development (HRHD) Nazra Jahan says that the situation was ironical as women were being disrespected and killed brutally but the killers who get benefit of the weakness of the laws.

She says “No doubt in recent days, very reasonable legislations have been made and if they are implemented in true sense, the problems relating to women can be addressed.”

Nazra highlighted that in most of the cases, the tribal system plays a negative role and cases were lodged in such a way that finally favour the killers. The courts also free the accused of killing women in the name of ‘honour’ due to want of witnesses and sound evidence. She said the incidents of murdering women were taking place, in different parts of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab and it needed that implementation of strict laws could be ensured in Pakistan with a true political zeal. She said that a powerful political influence either on top level or low level was a great hurdle in this regard.

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