The main suspect in the murder of a teenager in a Khairpur village has been arrested. Earlier, concerns were raised on social media platforms that the influential family background of the suspect, a relative of Pakistan People’s Party leader Manzoor Wassan, may enable him to evade repercussions in the case. As legal proceedings in the case unfold, the fact remains that crimes against women are facilitated by the underlying social and economic structures. In the case in question, the teenager, whose father is employed for domestic help at Manzoor Wassan’s house, had apparently expressed her wish to tie the knot with a cousin, and the suspect allegedly kidnapped her afterwards because he was opposed to the idea. When the family approached the PPP leader and pleaded with him to intervene in the matter, he managed to prevail over the suspect to send the teenager back home. However, the FIR states, sometime after her return, the suspect and his accomplices raided the house and shot and killed her. This story of toxic masculinity that gets sustained through patriarchal structures prevalent across our society is not an exceptional one. Women and men continue to be killed in the name of so-called honor when these incidents really reflect the shame that we carry as we keep losing precious lives. The phenomenon persists despite recent improvements to the law, including a provision in the penal code enabling the state to become the complainant and the requirement for the sentence not to be less than 10 years in case someone’s found guilty. As many as 737 such killings were documented by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan between June 2017 and August 2018. Given the trend, several dozen more would have lost their lives in the name of honor from September 2018 onwards. First and foremost, the law needs to come down hard in each and every instance of killings in the name of honor. However, it is equally important that the underlying socio-economic structures and anti-women traditions and customs be countered. That is a more systemic task and will require proactive measures including a programme of agrarian land reforms designed such that male and female members of rural households are given equal stake in land ownership. This will do wonders in equalising the socio-economic status of women, with that of their male kin. Alongside, an education programme must be devised using the various media and revisions to the curricula to promote progressive gender norms. The state must show through its actions that it means it when it says that it shall uphold the right to life of all its citizens in the constitution. For far too long, the state has effectively outsourced the security and wellbeing of its women citizens to the institution of the family. This arrangement is simply not tenable. * Published in Daily Times, February 8th 2019.