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Honor killing has long been a part of our society. This deep-rooted demon has taken the lives of many women since ages and still continues to do so.
So what honor killing really is you may ask? Well, simply put, honor killing means the murder of a family member, due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family, or has violated the principles of a community or a religion.
Unfortunately, during the last few months, there has been a concerning rise in honor killing in Pakistan; especially in conservative ares like Swat and other cities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In the previous month, at least six cases of honor killing were reported in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat area. These numbers, however, are not even precise; many cases of domestic violence and honor killing are underreported in men-dominant societies like ours. Because the perpetrator is usually a member of the victim’s own family, therefore to save face and prevent their family from disgrace, the other aggrieved family members do not bother to report the cases to police. Cases of domestic violence, land disputes, and honor killing et cetera are prefferably resolved in local jargas.
One such unfortunate incident of honor killing was recently reported in Tehsil Kabal of Swat on 23rd April, where members of the family plotted against the victim, killed her and then labelled her murder as a suicide case — a usual tactic in cases of such sort. The victim’s father, however, was suspicious of her daughter’s death so he filed an FIR in the local police station. Upon investigation, the police found out traces of poisning of the victim. According tothe police report, the victim was poisoned due to which she couldn’t survive longer and instantly died. The police arrested four of the victim’s famiy members into custody and who later confessed to doing the heinous crime they were suspected of doing.
Husbands, brothers and fathers kill female members of family in the name of honour and tell the people they’ve committed suicide. Nobody bothers to verify such claims.
So far, there have been reports of about 26 such cases of murders perpetrated in the name of honor this year in Swat, a local news agency reported. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, about 40 women were killed in Pakistan last year in the name of honor. Similarly about 76 reports of honor killing were recorded in the country during 2017. Despite efforts from the government, Human Rights organizations and lawmakers, reports of honor killing are growing manifold with each coming day. There are no effective means to control it and yet in many such cases the perpetrators moves freely around without fear of punishment.
Some state the possible reason for honor killings as the strong grip of traditions over the people. It is believed that the conservative thinking of the men-dominated society is the main cause of such practices in the district, since the traditions barred women from gaining higher education, practising their choice in marriage and many other critical life decision that they have the legal right to take for themselves. Living a woman’s life in Swat is not easy. One has to bid goodbye to a lot of things that you aspire to have achieved in your life. When a woman tries to marry by her own choice, she is most likely to become a victim of honor killing.
Local women rights activists and organizations complain that there are no effective legislation to safeguard women rights and mostly the incidences are reported after the crime is carried out. The irony in these cases: convictions are rare for many reasons, yet critical is a loophole that allows the legal heirs of the victim to pardon those responsible – who are usually also a relative.
In order ensure women are safe and to provide justice for Pakistani women, it requires a broader government effort, including more state prosecutions of honor killings, reformed criminal laws, and greater access for women and girls to safe emergency shelters and other services when they report risks from their family.