LAHORE: Honour killing remains an unsolved issue as the existing laws and their implementation have failed to stop this evil that still continues without any fear. A compromise have been recorded in 99.99 percent cases of honour killing till date due to which the culprits escape unpunished, say lawyers and human rights activists.
They say that lacunas in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), enacted by Pakistan’s judiciary allows legal edge to the perpetrators of the murders committed in the name of honour.
Since, a person, mostly woman are killed for bringing so called shame to the family/ society, thus people accept the loss of a life to save the family from further dishonour which the innocent victim brought.
Mumtaz Mughal, Resident Director of Aurat Foundation, told News Lens Pakistan, “So far 200 honour killings have been recorded this year, mainly from Punjab.”
She said that only one case of survived victim in rural Punjab has preceded with 10 year imprisonment to the convict a month ago.
Other cases are mutually settled when the complainants, mostly relatives of the victims, forgive the killer. If husband or in-laws are involved in honour killing of a woman, the case is settled on the basis of diyat (monetary compensation for murder under Islamic law), she added.
In this pretext, she revealed that more than 90 percent of women honour killings are committed by the victims’ own families.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) database 2015 recorded 987 honour crime cases. Mostly, firearms were used for killing and current/ former spouses were recorded as the prime suspects of those crimes. HRCP also recorded that the predominant marital status of the victims was either married or separated.
Alleged illicit relations, applying the choice of marriage by a woman and domestic disputes were major reasons behind these killings, says the HRCP report.
Statistics released by Ministry of Human Rights recorded 860 honour killings from January 2012 to September 2015. Aurat Foundation has recorded 178 honour killings in 2015.
Sidra Humayun, a Lahore based women rights activist, told News Lens Pakistan that Punjab records 75 % of the total recorded honour killings of the country.
News Lens Pakistan also spoke to a runaway couple i.e. Sur Fida and Haseena from Dera Allah Yaar, Balochistan who narrowly escaped honour killing in 2008 after they contracted marriage in a local court.
Fida says, “My father, Ghaus Baksh was killed within 48 hours of our runaway marriage by my wife’s relatives.” State should act as a party in every ‘honour crime’ to avoid further loss of lives, he added.
Zain Qazi, a senior lawyer, remarked that presence of Jirga (informal justice mechanisms) in areas where tribal system is still prevalent has created an incomprehensible situation where impunity culture obstructs equitable enforcement of Pakistan’s criminal justice laws within the State.
“Grave and sudden provocation’; a legal term which is used as a primary defence by the accused during mitigating circumstances in honour killing trials.”
A research study by CAMP Project 2014 says that 73% Pakistanis view that discriminatory customary practices have contributed in honour crimes. These practices are the second biggest factor in honour killings, says the report.
Human rights activists and lawyers have been pointing out loop holes in the Pakistan’s criminal justice system in the context of honour killings.
Section 304 of Pakistan Penal Code states, “ The ‘wali’ i.e. guardian/preferably father of the deceased can accept apology of the murderer in form of diyat that which literally means blood money instead of death sentence/ life imprisonment under section 302 of Criminal Law 2004.”
Humayun says, “In Pakistan’s patriarchal society, a woman’s life is taken for granted. That is why; families mostly choose to take blood money as murder compensation against their daughters’ lives instead of death penalty /life imprisonment.”
A research study ‘Impact of compromise in murder cases’ 2005’ conducted by Democratic Commission for Human Development in two districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa revealed harsh truth.
Author of this study, Tanveer Jahan, Executive Director DCHD, told News Lens Pakistan, “We observed 100 % compromise on a woman’s life taken in the name of honour when wali (father/guardian) pardons his son/ other relative under law of diyat.”
She said that blood money for a woman is half of a man’s murder which in 2015 was Rs 175000 (nearly 1740 USD). This simply means that one can honour kill a woman and can escape justice by just paying less than Rs 100000 to the victim’s family.
She said that the government is trying to make honour killing a ‘non compoundable offence’ to minimize this trend.
On July21, a joint parliamentary body unanimously approved honour crimes bill, 2016
Malik Hukam Khan, advisor to Ministry of law and justice, while talking to News Lens Pakistan on phone said that life imprisonment of twelve-and-a-half years have been declared mandatory for the offender proved guilty of killing in the name of honour.
However, the victim’s family still holds the option to waive capital punishment of the killer under the new law, he added.
He said that the bill would be produced before the Parliament for approval after which it would become a law.
This article originally appeared in News Lens and has been reproduced with permission