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Honour killing cases on the rise

Munawer Azeem

ISLAMABAD: Despite hard work on the part of numerous legislators and human rights activists, a steady number of ‘honour killing’ cases continue to be reported.

Earlier the killings were mostly isolated to northern Sindh, southern Punjab and some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, but now the capital police are registering cases regularly especially in its rural areas.

But even then the police, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other concerned authorities believe that the majority of cases remain unreported.

Prominent women’s right activists Farazana Bari over the issue said that the actual figure of ‘honour killings’ was not available with anyone neither was there any authority at the national or provincial level to monitor the act and collect the details. “The numbers are only collected from police and media reports,” she added.

Ms Bari explained that ‘honour killing’ is a compoundable offence in which the parties – accused and victim family – can reach a compromise and settle the issue. “As the accused of the ‘honour killing’ is often a family member – father, brother or husband – of the victim, he is easily earned pardoned by the kin of the victim or the complainant,” she said.

“In 2004, the then government tabled the law on ‘honour killing’ but defined it as a compoundable offence. We had raised objections and showed reservation over the law too,” she added.

“NGOs and other organisations working for women’s rights are struggling to make ‘honour killing’ a non-compoundable offence by considering the crime against the state not against the individual but it has been all in vain,” she complained.

Meanwhile, pioneer president Islamabad High Court Bar Association Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf Gujar said pardon from all the kin and legal heirs of the victim was necessary for the accused to avoid punishment and acquittal. In ‘honour killings’, parents should pursue the case but as both the victim and accused were related, the killer gained an advantage.

Mr Gujjar said the application of law changes with changes in social behaviour. “The law on ‘honour killings’ should also be changed to address the issue,” he said, adding, “the legislators and parliaments can make amendment to the existing law.”

At least six incidents of honour killings reported over the last two-and-a-half months.

July 19: A man killed his sister ‘MB’, 19, on pretext of ‘honour’ in his house in Kirpa. The victim’s family was trying to convince her to marry a man of their choice, but she repeatedly refused. When asked for her reason, she disclosed that she had married secretly. Over the disclosure, her brother killed her with a pistol and escaped. Later, the victim’s father lodged a complaint against his son and the police registered a murder case.

July 6: A man killed his wife and her alleged paramour in the area of Shahzad Town. Later, the accused, who escaped from the spot after the killing, surrendered to the police. The accused told the police that on that day he returned home and found his bedroom locked from the inside, but his wife was in the kitchen. Later, he found a man inside his bedroom and lost his temper and killed the two.
He further claimed that around a month ago he had returned home and found his bedroom locked. Later, his wife opened it and he saw the man escaping from another door. He rebuked his wife over her illicit relation with the man and in response she left the house. A week later she returned on his insistence but did not abandon the illicit relation.

July 3: A man was found dead from a nullah at G-11/2. The victim, Mohammad Bashir, and his cousin Ahsanullah, natives of district Kohat, persuaded two local girls to run away with them and got a court marriage done a year back. A Jirga was called which barred the couple from entering the village. In response, the couple migrated to Islamabad and started living at Merabadi in Golra. On that day, the victim received a call at his mobile from his in-laws and immediately left the house. Later, he was found strangled in the nullah.

June 11: Shamasur Rehman, 22, an Afghan national, was killed during a scuffle with a man whose daughter he wanted to marry.
The accused, a native of Mardan, surrendered before the Tarnol police, and claimed that he was not a criminal but murdered the victim as he was constantly teasing his daughter. On that day, the victim called him on his mobile and told him that he was coming to his house along with others for marriage proposal. However, the accused claimed he refused and asked him not to come to his home. However, the victim along with his friends tried to forcefully enter his home which led to the scuffle and later the killing.

May 4: A teenager was stabbed to death and others injured critically injured over ‘honour killing’. The victim – Dilawar Abbas – had friendship with the sister of the accused and earlier they were engaged in a brawl over the issue.

May 1: A married woman was gunned down by her brother in Golra. The victim’s husband told the police that his wife had eloped with one of her acquaintances after 45 days of their marriage in September 2011. Since then her brother was tracing her whereabouts and last week he brought her home. But he kept the victim in his house and put restrictions over her movements, including going outside the house, including the house of her husband, and later killed her.