Absence of specific laws goads honor killings in Pakistan
By Muhammad Nadeem
PESHAWAR: Traditions are changing rapidly in Pakistan. Customs which were once human friendly are mostly changed and earning bad image for Pakistan as well as for its people. In past women were respected but now it seems that this country is becoming godforsaken land for them, as they are murdered, brutally tortured, sold like chickens or forcefully married in their childhood.
Despite independence of judiciary and democracy in Pakistan, still violation of human rights is taking place, particularly against women and children while there is no action in sight against the culprits. Love marriages, which are supposed to be appreciated, are condemned and those who marry their beloved ones are killed in the name of honor.
Despite the approval of ‘Honor Killings Act’ in 2004, the incident of honor killings are on the rise, as there is no specific law in Pakistan; under which a person should be bring before justice for killing a family member or relative. Police seldom register First Information Report (FIR) in such cases and term it as private or family affairs. Police register FIR against killers, under Section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Police have no authority to arrest murderer under this section if no one was ready to become a party in the case and register FIR. Thus, killers in almost all honor killing cases are at large.
According to statistics of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at least 943 girls and women were killed in 2011 for defaming their family. Nearly 675 women and girls were murdered during the first nine months of 2011. They included at least 71 victims under the age of 18. Nearly 450 of the women were killed from January to September being accused of having illicit relations while 129 were killed when they married their beloved without permission. Around 49 were killed by their fathers, 169 by their husbands and 19 by their sons.
The Commission reported 791 honor killings in 2010 and there was no discernible decrease in 2011.
According to the statistics provided by Aurat Foundation, nearly 8,548 incidents of violence against women were reported in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces and in Islamabad in 2009.
Sawaira, 18, resident of Nowshera district has been threaten by her father and mother to be killed for honor if she denied leaving show business (showbiz). According to her parents it was earning bad name for her family. She stepped as a singer into showbiz in June 2011.
Talking to this scribe she said: “My father, warned me to leave singing, or else I would be killed as they are of the view that profession in which I often meet with males was earning bad name for family.”
Replying to a query she said that being a part of rigid society I always faced pressure, particularly from my family. When I refused to quit this field they tried to kill me through a hired assassin.
My mother warned me to leave Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as soon as possible as her father was committed to killer her to save his family honor.
She told that when she did not paid heed, next week a man riding a bike tried to hit her. “I sustained minor injuries. Soon after the incident my father called me that I had still option and time to leave this field and restrain from defaming the family honour.”
She implored that when she went to Nowshera police station to lodge FIR. The station house officer refused to register the FIR, terming it family dispute. I left the house in Nowshera and started living in Peshawar but I am going to leave this city soon as they will find me here too one day and this time I am sure they would not let me alive.
She claimed that she had contacted several NGOs and the so-called activities but none showed interest in her matter as they were interested in those things which could prove a source of donation for them.
She told that local media should ask from religious scholars that why they have failed to perform their actual religious duty to create awareness among masses and show real face of Islam.
She said that she has the right to leave according to her own will, but due to obsolete social norms, she was running here and there to save her skin. “I am tired now and want to leave the remaining days of life in peace. I want protection from the government and justice from the judiciary. I would also ask public that follow the instruction of your religion which forbids everyone not to kill a human, as killing of one person is the killing of whole humanity.”
Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao said that the government’s inability to bring specific laws to end honor killing and leaving the matters in the hands of local elders, were major factors.
“In Pakistan executive is reluctant to cooperate with judiciary or take action against criminals without favoritism while judicial system was also unable to provide speedy justice. Thus we see vacuum which is filled by traditional courts like jirga or panchayit, where tribal or local elders decide fate of people, according to their own will,” he said.
He suggested that legal reforms, exercise of administrative authority and social awareness could help greatly to keep in check the honor killings.
Replying to a query he said that he would try to get support of other MPAs in order to bring bill in the provincial assembly on honor killing.
Rooh-ul-Amin, a journalist, alleged that the government was not serious to address the issue as many politicians were involved in honor killing.
He said that when the National Assembly of Pakistan was discussing the issue of five women who were buried alive in Naseerabad in the name of honor, Sanaullah Zehri, a member of the national assembly, told the house that it was their tradition to do so and nobody has the right to politicize the matter. “What should you expect in such a country where politicians say like this?”
He suggested that the government should bring forth specific law instead of playing with dilly-dallying tactics, sometimes banking on mere lip service and sometimes to please the international community and right groups just by doing tinkering in the already structured so-called acts and regulations for honor killing and establish separate directorate in all provinces to end violence against women, as the criminal class knows that they would not be held accountable under the present law. This is the major reason responsible for rise in honor killings.
“If the government is serious and want to ensure that women subject to violence have effective access to justice then it should establish separate directorates to investigate the cases of violence against women, else we cannot see end to honor killing,” Rooh-ul-Amin opined.
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