Any murder that is executed as a result of a perception of dishonor brought by a woman for the family by another family member is simply known as honor killing. Honor killing is a dilemma in many countries but higher rates of such cases are reported in India and Pakistan. Some of the major causes based on honor killings facts are usually eloping, engaging with men or going against the conservative system of values in any way. Prominently honor killings victims are women in Pakistan because of a very simple fact that traditionally woman is taken as a controllable property in our society, men cannot be okay with anything that a woman does against his will and that is perceived to harm his reputation and honour in the community.
In the past decade despite so many developments the stigma of honor killings has continued in the country and in fact risen. Another reason why honor killings in Pakistan are at high prevalence is because of the amount of exposure our woman is experiencing. The media, web, print media and otherwise other socializing activities have opened the eyes of women to a new world. In many rural areas where woman are kept ignorant of the changes in the world and are left uneducated, the media has made them believe in things that are fictional and unpractical, the lack of education leads to implementing the principles exploited by media in a very rebellious manner.
Anti Honor killing laws:
Whatever the causes might be for honour killings, its growth in numbers in Pakistan. Implementation of laws and reforms to help address the issue are necessary. Following is a detailed preview of anti honour killing laws in Pakistan initial, amended and existing.
Over the years with the prevalence of honour killings in the society many reforms have been made and anti honour killings laws have brought into existence. However, there had been changes depending on the magnitude of the occurrence.
Initial anti-honor killing laws in Pakistan:
The act of anti-honor killing law in 2004:
Before the year no particular honor killing law existed in the county. This too was made upon massive pressurizing from both international and domestic parties. Reason for this was sole because honor killing was no more considered a crime in the country, not only had it prevailed in rural areas but also had a huge impact on urban culture. The increase in honor killings was very alarming for many and lead to understanding the need for a workable anti-honor killing law.
As per the anti-honor killing law passed on 4th of December in Pakistan,
- Anyone executing murder in the name of honour shall experience 7 years of imprisonment and in case of extreme situation might also lead to a death penalty.
However, the law had failed to make a huge difference as it did not cover all aspect of honor killings murders, in most cases the accused are family members which make an obvious probability for pardoning the individual. Also even if not a part of the family many accused would enjoy bail from punishment by offering money for forgiveness.
No major change in the scenario was noted after the law was passed but little wins don’t harm, the fact alone that finally a law had been made to address the issue in itself was a victory.
Amended Anti Honor Killing laws:
The act of anti-Honor killing law in 2006:
For the protection of women, before the parliament of Pakistan, a bill was proposed in 2005 which was then rejected but later in 2006 was passed as a bill for under the criminal law. The act of 2006 covered much additional crime and causes that lead to honour killing, however, the law did not primarily focus on honour killing itself.
As per the act of 2006 (criminal laws amendment)
If a woman is abducted the accused may experience lifetime imprisonment and a certain amount of fine
In case of a marriage of a woman against her will and mutual consent, the law endorsed a fine and life imprisonment.
Rape being one of the prime causes of honour killings must be punishable and not mixed with Zina unless and until witnessed by four men. Any false accusations in the cases would lead to certain punishment too.
Despite the fact that this law focused on key measurements leading to honour killing the phenomenon itself was not directly addressed. It still lacked the enforcement required to help achieve drastic fall down of honour killings in the country.
The act of anti-honor killing law in 2011:
In 2011 another amendment was made in the act of 2006 which did not primarily base on honour killing but ultimately lead to its diminish.
As per the act of 2011:
In cases of rape or honor killing, if a woman is completed to marry in order to get free from liability of punishment, the law will be enforced and the accused will have to face the punishment per law.
The brief amendment did somehow help in lowering the estimate of honor killings in the society as for the executors of honor killing attaining benefits and prevention from the punishment by offering woman was at a risk and ultimately lead to lesser-known honor killing crimes.
The existing anti Honor killing law:
The act of anti killing law 2016:
Don’t know what exactly lead to the enforcement of this law be it the murder of famous social media star Qandeel Baloch, or the rapid growth of murders in the name of honor. Whatever the case may be till date the act of 2016 has come across as one of the most effective anti-honor killing law in Pakistan. It was October of 2016 that the upper and lower parliament houses mutually approved of the legislation.
The major achievement of the law was the strengthening of women’s protection against violence. The law was introduced as a safeguard of woman’s right and the covered the basic loopholes of the previous laws made for protection for a woman against violence.
As per the existing act of 2016
- A lifetime or at least 14 years of imprisonment depending directly on the context of murder will be mandatory for anyone executing the action in the name of honour despite the fact that the accused have been forgiven by the victims family.
This is the existing honour killing law in the country which is still applicable for any honour killing case reported. It is true that with this major loophole acknowledged many doers of honour killings who are pardoned by the family under any pressure still have to face a punishment decided by the law. With the act of 2016 enforced gone are the days when honour killings cases even reported were shut down without any deserved punishment. Even if not in all the cases but a little impact is still our victory.
Muhammad Usman Awan is a Blogger and Social Entrepreneur who founded first Anti Harassment Awareness Campaign “Stop Harassment Now”. The Purpose of this campaign is to empower and educate our Girls and Working Women against Harassment.