ISLAMABAD-The Federal Ministry of Law and Justice in collaboration with the European Union Delegation to Pakistan hosted a special event at the President’s Secretariat in Islamabad to commemorate the International day for the elimination of violence against women, and to launch the #TimeForRealHonourmovement.

President Dr. Arif Alvi graced the occasion as the chief guest. With the launch of #TimeForRealHonour at this event, Barrister Dr. Muhammad Farogh Naseem – Minister for Law and Justice – along with the Federal Ministry of Law and Justice, in collaboration with the European Union Delegation to Pakistan endeavoured to initiate a multi-stakeholder discussion and dialogue against honour killings across the country and to define more informed methods of implementation of anti-honour killing laws.

Indeed, an estimated 1,000 women are murdered under the pretext of honour killing in Pakistan each year. This illegal and inhuman practice continues to take place despite the enactment of stringent legislations, including the existing honour killing law in 2016 which mandates life imprisonment, 14 years in prison for convicted murderers and restricts the power of pardon by the family of perpetrators of such crimes.

The #TimeForRealHonour event opened with the National Anthem of Pakistan and the recitation of Holy Quran followed by an introductory note by Barrister Maleeka Ali Bukhari – Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice – and addresses by European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminaraand Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem.

The event then moved to a screening of two short films commissioned for the occasion, directed by two-time Academy Award Winning Director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, highlighting the existing legislative framework against honour based killings.

The event concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Barrister Maleeka Ali Bukhari featuring Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Additional Inspector General of Police, Punjab Inam Ghani, Advocate and Executive Director of Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell Nida Aly, Lawyer and Founder of Digital Rights Foundation Nighat Dad, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, where they discussed anti-honour killing laws in Pakistan and the administration’s efforts in further implementing and reforming these laws. The event concluded with a closing speech by President Arif Alvi.

In attendance were representatives and stakeholders from a diversity of fields, including ambassadors, high commissioners, head of missions of the European Union member states, parliamentarians, and influential celebrities from the entertainment industry.

Speaking about the event, the Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Barrister Dr Mohammed Farogh Naseem has said, “Our top priority is to empower women of this country and eliminate all forms of exploitative practices against them.”

“By empowering women, we can take this country to the next level which will truly ameliorate the social, political and economic, fabric of the society,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, Barrister Maleeka Ali Bukhari.

Ambassador-Designate of the European Union to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara said, “Violence against women and girls is unfortunately one of the most widespread and devastating human rights violations globally. Gender-based violence is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. The European Union is actively supporting the effort of the government of Pakistan in addressing this problem. Gender equality needs to be promoted inter alia through addressing the root causes of the inequality, negative stereotypes, appropriate legislation and by promoting awareness of the damaging effects of this not just on women but on the whole society.”