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‘State should become guardian for honour crime victims’

Islamabad: Artists, students and media practitioners asked the state on Tuesday to become guardian of the victims of honour crimes and help them get justice. They were at the launching of documentary Deception of Honour, said a press release issued by ActionAid Pakistan in Islamabad.

Mukhtaran Mai, a victim of honour crimes; Samar Minallah, a lawyer and social activist; and Sana Saleem, a student, were prominent speakers on the occasion.

Mai said that public awareness about the passage of law on honour killing is the key to thwart this evil tradition. “There should be a proper mechanism to make sure that women’s fate is not decided by tribal jirgas,” she said.

Minallah praised the parliament for passing women friendly bills such as the bills on acid violence, anti-sexual harassment and now honour killing. She said that even Islamic jurisprudence stresses for punitive laws to curb such evil practices, but unfortunately, in case of honour crimes, no punitive measure had been taken so far. Referring to Mukhtaran Mai, she said that women should not always be portrayed as victims rather they should be presented as survivors.

Saleem urged media to prioritise issues of women and stressed upon the government to take steps for providing free medical treatment to rape victims. She demanded an end to moral policing of women, saying such restrictions inhibit scope of social justice. She added that honour crimes can only be eliminated with literacy and awareness.

A personal story of Sania from Shahdadkot, Sindh was the most striking feature of the documentary. She told the audience through the documentary that she was forced to reach a compromise with her husband under pressure from her family and also because she was mother of three children.

The story sparked the participants to reflect upon social practices, where victims are forced to forgive the culprits. There was a unanimous demand that the state should come forward and protect the victim or survivor by becoming their guardian.

The launch was preceded by a day-long activity of mural paintings.

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