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HRCP says ‘honour killings’ on the rise in Pakistan

Akhtar Amin

PESHAWAR: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Sunday said killing of girls marrying without the consent of the family members was on the rise in Pakistan.

HRCP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Coordinator Shahidullah Khan told The News that women were being killed in the name of “honour” even on suspicion or for going against the wishes of respective families. He said women were even killed over property disputes and inheritance.

The HRCP in its annual report 2011 mentioned that at least 943 women were killed in the name of honour. The data is based on media monitoring and field reports from the HRCP volunteers.

The number of victims of honour-related violence could be higher as such cases often go unreported. The report stated the purported reasons given for this were illicit relations in 595 cases and the demand to marry of own choice in 219 cases. In 180 cases the murderers were brothers and in 226 cases husbands of the victims. Only 20 women killed in the name of honour were reported to have been provided medical aid before they died.

The provincial coordinator said the HRCP was not only collecting data on honour killings across the country, but was also playing an effective role in preventing the crime. He said voice was being raised for effective and stringent laws to bring the accused to justice.

Legal experts dealing with the cases told The News that though changes have been made to the relevant laws, but a lot more was needed to check this practice. Recently Nargis and her minor children, including three-year-old Shahan and one and a half years-old Alisha were allegedly murdered by her family members in the name of honour in Mardan district.

The police had booked the brother-in-law of Nargis in the case on the complaint of her family members, but later on the directives of the chief justice of the Peshawar High Court, the police re-investigated the case and it was found that her family members, including father, brothers and sister-in-law, were behind her murder.

Noor Alam Khan, a lawyer, said the some segments of the society still supported this practice. He said there was a difference of opinion on this issue, which was evident from judgments of the superior courts.

The lawyer said that in some cases the courts favoured the accused on the grounds of “grave and sudden provocation” whereas in other cases the courts didn’t accept this ground for an honour-related murder. He said the provision of “grave and sudden provocation” had been omitted from the law, but the judges of superior courts often extended concession to the accused on the same grounds.

The Aurat Foundation conducted a study on honour killings in Pakistan in 2012. It called for doing legislation to counter the trend. The study carried out by Maleeha Zia showed that many cases highlighted in the media were not reported to the police and if reported these were not classified as honour killings.

The study said the courts usually gave verdicts in favour of the “killers” by invoking the provision of “grave and sudden provocation”.

The News

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