‘Honour killing is ‘brainchild’ of Gen Zia’

* Aurat Foundation CEO says honour crimes were privatised by dictator with introduction of Hudood laws

‘Honour killing is ‘brainchild’ of Gen Zia’

ISLAMABAD: Honour killing reached South Asia from Middle Eastern countries. "With more vibrant civil society, active social media and new generation spontaneous reactions with its condemnation, there was strong hope that with stringent and robust law-making, we may curtail it gradually and can curb this scourge that dishonors the very domain of an honor," said Dr Nafisa Shah, in her presiding note at a seminar titled, 'Honor Crimes and Legislative Response', arranged by Shaheed Bhutto Foundation at SZABIST campus.

Quoting a case study from her recently published book, 'Honor Unmasked' by Oxford publications, which in actual was her Doctorate thesis with Oxford University, she explained that the cases in the name of honour involved a very complex set of laws and traditional mechanisms, where oftentimes common or Islamic laws were also put in abeyance, just to restore the so-called prestige attached with the honour. On this, from local police to judiciary to tribal jirga system operators, all late or sooner reach to the same-page that robs off the liberty and protections, even provided to citizens in several articles of law of the land.

She said, "Recently introduced Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) may complex matters more, as we are still not out of the clutches of Hudood Ordinance and its discriminatory clutches. By providing constitutional and legal cover to the out of court settlements and unbalancing the existing legal course, there was threatening chance that, we may end with another deadlock, where either normal or alternative course of justice may not be working, at all."

In his keynote address, Aurat Foundation Chief Executive Officer Naeem Mirza told the audience that the crimes in the name of honour were privatised in the days of General Ziaul Haq with the introduction of Hudood Laws by arbitrarily defining laws at the cost of persecuting more marginalized segments. This practice, he deplored was continuing till to-date. He urged legislators to engage wider media and civil society segments, for broader legislation that can meet the emerging needs of current and future times, where new generation and new-age needs considered less the origins of Hudood laws and were more interested in the solutions of their own age issues with the inbuilt solutions that may ensure equality for the ages to come.

Rehana Shaikh, a feminist and moderator of the seminar, shared the latest date on honour killing and other crimes in the name of honour across the country, where every day three cases at an average were being reported.

She, however, added that, if unreported cases were added, then this number could double, which was most alarming and second largest number of casualties after the war on terror in country.

Earlier, in his welcoming note Sikandar Ali Hullio, chief executive, Shaheed Bhutto Foundation, thanked the keynote speakers and audience by sharing his concerns that honour crimes were increasing alarmingly across the country.

He recommended for more pro-active legislation for making the country stronger with the ownership of those citizens, who were feeling disowned and abandoned, in the context of certain law and unforeseen coverage provided to honour and crimes committed in its name.