Honour (or honor) Killings in Pakistan

- Pakistani

Honour (or honor) killings are acts of revenge, usually in the forms of death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonour upon the family. A woman can be targeted by her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, seeking a divorce from an abusive husband or committing criminal conversation etc. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonours” her family is sufficient to start an attack on her life.

In Pakistan there is a huge scale of violence suffered by women and girls. Police and prosecutors often ignore honour killings. The Pakistani government’s failure to take effective measures to end the practice of honour killings is indicative of a weakening of political institutions, corruption, and economic decline.

The country’s leading human rights group said, at least 943 Pakistani women and girls were murdered last year for supposedly insulting their family’s honor.

Pakistan is a male-dominated society and some areas have tribal councils who decide and execute decisions which take importance over state legislation. In the rouse of civil crisis, people turn to other alternative models, such as traditional tribal customs.

Pakistan enacted a law that made honour killings punishable by a prison term of seven years or by the death penalty in the most extreme cases. But most of the times laws for violence against women are ignored. Pakistan is an Islamic republic and has Islamic laws, according to Islamic laws women have equal rights and deserve more respect.

Islamic teachings do not allow any person to take the law into their own hands and to commit murder, no matter what justification is used.

This would lead to a complete breakdown of society, as any person would be able to commit murder and then claim that they had valid reasons for doing so. Therefore, Islam has instituted a very specific system of implementing the law.

I think this is a cultural problem and the tribal tradition that emphasises the family or the tribe or the community over the individual. Islam does not allow such emphasise upon the individual. Islam recommends discussing the matters with patience.

Pakistani officials need to concentrate and emphasise Islamic rules and regulations and to implement them rather than relying on cultures and traditional customs.