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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Honor killings: Pakistan’s continuing shame

In Pakistan’s second largest city Lahore, an anti-terrorism court has punished a woman with the death penalty for murdering her 17 year old daughter, last year, in the name of honor for marrying a man of her own choice.

According to police, Parveen Rafique with the help of her son had murdered Zeenat Bibi last year. Her son, Mohammad Anees, has also been given life term and fined 1.5 million rupees. The newly-wed bride was burnt alive in the Factory Area police limits – where Zeenat received multiple burns and died on the spot.

Honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family, due to the belief the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or tribe due to her actions. Killing the person is viewed as a way to restore the reputation and honor of the family. Honor killing is particularly prevalent in Punjab in Pakistan. This cultural plague takes hundreds of lives each year in the Pakistan. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan there were more than 1,100 “honor killings” in 2015. Last year in 2016, in the Punjab province alone almost 231 women had been killed. 

Read more: Continuing scourge of honor killing in Pakistan

”When my wife went to her parent’s home, I received information that my in-laws were subjecting my wife to torture”

Hassan Khan, honor victims husband, registered a case against Parveen, which states that he married Zeenat on May 29, 2016 in a local court. He said that the victim’s cousin, Mushtaq Ahmad, later requested her to go back to her parents so a proper ceremony could be held.

”When my wife went to her parent’s home, I received information that my in-laws were subjecting my wife to torture” Hassan Khan said. Khan alleged that he saw his in-laws first beat his wife, douse her in kerosene and then set her ablaze.

Read more: My Tribute to Qandeel Baloch…

The anti-honor-killing law, finally passed in October last year was a product of a long fight by Pakistani activists, feminists, and progressive lawmakers. It mandates a minimum lifetime jail sentence for perpetrators which closed a legal loophole that allowed a killer (usually men) who took the defense of ‘honor killing’ to walk free if the family of the victim forgave him.

In this case, Parveen’s case was heard in anti-terrorism court anyway, under Sections 302, 7ATA and other sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). However, the scourge has not abated, only on Monday in Lodhran, Punjab, a woman was electrocuted to death by her brother after she married according to her own choice.