The History of Honour Killing Laws in Pakistan

On December 28th 2016, a man in Jhelum killed his own wife on the pretext of disrespecting his honour. He was not the first one to do this, nor will he be the last. According to the Honour Based Violence Awareness Network, over 1000 women are killed in Pakistan annually for honour. This begs the question: Why are our laws not deterring these crimes?

To gain a deeper understanding of the answer to this question, let’s take a walk down memory lane to ascertain the effectiveness of Honour Killings Laws in Pakistan.

Honour Killings have never been a firm standing for the Pakistani legal system. Until 2004, it wasn’t even officially punishable by law. Under international and domestic pressure, a rudimentary law finally sanctioned a term of seven years for the crime and death penalty in the most extreme cases.

This law was never used.

The reason for this was not that there were no instances of honour killing after the law’s passing. There were thousands of them. However, due to a bizarre loophole in the law, no one was ever convicted of the crime.

Honour Killings in Pakistan revolve around families conspiring together to kill a member of their family, usually a woman, for disrespecting the family’s ‘honour’. By ‘disrespecting honour’, it can be anything from marrying without consent to going out of the house without permission (varies according to the local customs). Not only is the act arelic from the days of uncultured brutality where tribal customs gained reverence but the law itself was even more archaic.

 

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