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. The scenario was: If a family murdered one of their members for honour, they may be forgiven and not convicted if the victim’s family members pardon the killer. Since the victim’s family members were the actual killers, it would be as if someone committed the crime and forgave themselves for it. The law could not have been more ineffective. Unaffected by it, people continued to kill for honour, knowing that there would be no consequences against them. Therefore, the law completely failed in it’s objective to deter individuals from the crime. Ultimately, after 12 years, an Oscar-winning documentary and a number of high profile honour killing cases, the parliament gained enough momentum to recognize the loophole and fix the law. And so it did on October 7th, 2016 when it passed the Anti-Honour Killing Bill. According to the new law, if someone is murdered in the name of honour by a close family member, they will be liable toa mandatory punishment of twelve and a half years and may only be pardoned by the victim’s family members if they are subject to capital punishment. Victory? One would think so. With the loophole plugged, the Parliament sat back at ease. A closer look can reveal, however, that while the law is decidedly better than its previous iteration, it is failing to deter criminals as much as the last law was. Firstly, this is because the culture of honour killings pervades mostly in the rural areas of Pakistan. In these areas, the chances of someone being convicted under the common legal system are next to nothing. These areas generally have their own justice systems, commonly referred to as ‘panchayats’, who decide the principles that will govern punishments for crimes in the community. As these local systems still live under the same historic customs, honour killing is justified for many of them which is why they don’t convict the assailants. Secondly, even for those rural areas who are willing to penalise the crime, they do so with the availability of pardon for the criminal from the victim’s family members. And so the loophole is brought back. Thirdly, these communities hold the idea of ‘honour’ in extremely high regard which is why going to prison for close to a decade is often not enough of a deterrent for them to not ‘take back their honour’. For all of these reasons, the new law is still failing to accomplish the task of deterring honour killings. And this cycle will continue unless there is an evolution of culture in these rural communities, catalysed by a unified legal system throughout the country. Until then, the law against honour killings remains as it always was: utterly redundant.