At least 54 couples have been killed for marrying of their own free will and without the consent of their parents.
Police records show that challans in the cases of these couples, mercilessly slaughtered by their parents or other family members, have been submitted to the relevant courts. Alarmingly, a district prosecution officer, requesting anonymity, frankly admits there is little chance of convictions due to the lack of evidence. “The police’s investigation section has failed to conduct independent investigations and collect incriminating evidence.”
He continues that in many cases, the complainants and witnesses are directly or indirectly related to the suspects. “Therefore, they do not come forward to support the prosecution and this paves the way for the suspects to be acquitted,” he adds.
Amna Zamana, a leading women’s rights activist, says these circumstances are highly disturbing. “This is a big issue in our society,” she adds. However, the activist regrets that hardly any witnesses present themselves to give evidence despite their eagerness to talk to the media. She says it is equally painful that families justify these crimes in the name of honour.
“I don’t understand why the media uses the term honour killing. Zamana claims not a single man has been killed by his family if he commits a rape or any such act.
“In the current situation, hardly any witnesses turn up to record evidence and even if they do, the murderers usually go free.
Witnesses are emotionally blackmailed by relatives and end up disassociating themselves from the prosecution. In such circumstances, it is impossible to bring the accused to justice.”
Muhammad Ismail, a social activist, tells The Express Tribune that many women are murdered by male relatives to deprive them of property and other rights, but the FIRs are registered as honour killings as a cover up.
“It is unfortunate that love marriages are being dubbed as elopements and the women involved are humiliated by being described as wayward,” highlights University of Agriculture Faisalabad Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and renowned sociologist Dr Iqbal Zafar. “This tendency has polluted the social and culture norms of society.” He adds that women are still considered inferior in Pakistan and have do not have equal rights. Ismail says their maltreatment is deep-rooted and still persists in homes.
“This phenomenon can be gauged from the fact that many families still do not celebrate the arrival of a baby girl. Even the parents mourn the birth of a daughter,” he laments.