Pakistan: 'Honour' killings rise as country stays stuck between Islamic and British common law

Edited By: Moohita Kaur Garg
Islamabad, Pakistan Updated: May 23, 2022, 11:05 PM(IST)

Pakistan remains a deeply patriarchal society where under the "honour" code, women can be killed for bringing "shame" to their families. This shame can be triggered by something as simple as talking to someone of the other gender or marrying someone of their own choice. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The country has an overlapping legal system, one that functions on both Islamic law and British common law. Due to its overlapping structure, the system is riddled with loopholes that allow criminals to walk free

In Pakistan, honour killings are a horrifying reality and the country's legal system does little to provide justice to the victims.

The country has an overlapping legal system, one that functions on both Islamic law and British common law. Due to its overlapping structure, the system is riddled with loopholes that allow criminals to walk free.

Also read | For shame!: In yet another 'honour killing,' Pakistani brother murders his sister for pursuing dancing

The biggest example of this is the release of Muhammad Waseem, who killed his sister, social media star Qandeel Baloch for her "intolerable" behaviour that challenged Pakistan's attitude towards women.

Baloch's murder had triggered a wave of anger and acted as a catalyst for activists fighting for a new era of justice over the so-called "honour" killings.

However, not even three years into the life sentence, Baloch's murderer walked free after his mother "pardoned" him for murdering his sister.

Watch | Pakistan: Lahore HC acquits Qandeel Baloch's brother for killing her

Under Islamic law, the parents of the victim can pardon a murderer and that is what happened.

Pakistan remains a deeply patriarchal society where under the "honour" code, women can be killed for bringing "shame" to their families. This shame can be triggered by something as simple as talking to someone of the other gender or marrying someone of their own choice.

The judicial system in the country still allows men to assault, rape, and murder women without consequence and while tough new anti-rape laws have been introduced in the country their impact in a country where victim-blaming is common remains to be seen.

Also read | Pakistan: Madarsa teachers kill their colleague over dream ‘blasphemy’

In the year 2021, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) more than 470 cases of "honour" killing were reported in the countries. 

What needs to be acknowledged here is that this number stands in spite of a huge number of cases goes unregistered.

World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap index in the same year ranked Pakistan at 153 out of 156 countries.

(With inputs from agencies)

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