Honor Killings in Pakistan: latest figures

The News, November 27, 2005
‘Alarming rise in honour killings in Pakistan’
By Azfar-ul-Ashfaque

KARACHI: Pakistan has witnessed an alarming increase in the menace of so-called honour killing cases as 4383 women fell victims to Karo Kari over the last four years.

This was disclosed by Sindh Additional Inspector-General, Police (Investigation), Nayyar H Zaidi, while giving a presentation on "Honour Killing: Analysis, Challenges and Strategies for Victim Support" on the third day of an international conference on "Honour Killing Murder in the name of so-called Honour" being organised by the British Council, Pakistan, at a local hotel on Saturday.

Unfortunately, the province of Sindh has topped the list as a total of 2228 cases of "Karo Kari" were reported officially during January 2001 to December 2004. However, the least number of honour killing cases were reported in Balochistan where only 287 incidents had occurred during the past four years.

According to the data presented by the provincial head of investigation, a total of 758 cases of honour killing were reported in Pakistan during 2001; 1015 cases in 2002; 1261 cases in 2003 and the number of such cases touched a record high in 2004 in which some 1349 women were killed in the name of "honour".

The province-wise break-up revealed that there were some 287 cases in Balochistan during the last four years. In NWFP, 299 cases were reported, in the Punjab a total of 1569 women had fallen victim to honour killing and in Sindh 2228 such cases were reported during the four-year period.

He told a questioner that prior to 2001 the incidents of honour killings were taken as ordinary murder.

Zaidi said that the main reasons for women falling victim to "honour" killing were those seeking divorce; who have been raped; who refuse to yield to family pressures; and in order to extract revenge from feuding opponents.

He informed the gathering that there were several laws to protect women. He said that the Constitution of Pakistan in several articles guarantees gender equality. However, he spoke about some discriminatory laws and said that the government was adopting various strategies for victim support.

He said that the National Commission on the Status of Women had been mandated to review existing discriminatory laws.

A new law, he said, had been introduced last year through which the punishment for honour killing had been enhanced and now minimum punishment was 10 years imprisonment. A provision in the criminal law was also amended through legislation, which previously allowed a compromise between the family members during trial.

He recommended that the State should assume responsibility to uphold the human rights and provide all citizens security to life and property without discrimination of caste, creed, colour, age or race. Gender bias must be eradicated from the state machinery and discriminatory laws should be re-examined and should be done away with. Police should be sensitised and it should register cases on behalf of the state where the complainants are not forthcoming. He observed that the civil society, media, judiciary, human right activists and police could play and important role.

On the social front, he said, women empowerment should be increased and illiteracy among women be reduced.

Professor Jahanara Huq, Vice-President of the Bangladesh-based Women for Women, highlighted violence against women in Bangladesh.

She explained different kinds of violence against women including that arising from matters pertaining to dowery, rape, domestic violence, incest, abduction/trafficking, acid violence, violence related to marriage, campus violence, feudal practices like Fatwa, medical abuse, media violence, and sexual harassment at workplaces.

She said that Bangladesh had no honour killing as such but had grievous, gruesome gender violence in its various dimensions. She said that 75 per cent of death, murder of victims was due to dowery cases. "Although anti-dowry law has been passed but it is not at all effective due to various socio-economic constraints and the legal flaws," she observed.

She said that rape in Bangladesh is so common that it extends from children of three to five years up to old women. She said that trafficking leads to prostitution or sexual slavery. "Every year about 20,000 women are abducted and taken to brothers in Kolkata, Delhi, Middle East," she added.

Dr M Ishaque Sarhandi, the assistant professor, Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), presented a paper, "Resources and Support Requirement for the Traumatic Management of Honour Killing Victims".

He suggested formulation of a national plan to address mental health in the context of disaster and integration of a specific disaster response component in the national mental health plan.

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