Honour killing termed outright murder: Serious effort needed to check social evil
ISLAMABAD, May 24 2006: A serious and joint effort by all levels of Pakistani society is needed to change attitudes towards so-called honour killings, said a broad alliance of politicians, community leaders, religious figures, women groups, NGOs and other activists at a gathering held here on May 23. The brutal crime of honour killing is a form of murder that cannot be defended as a national custom, insisted alliance representatives at the national launch of the “we can end honour killing campaign,” organized by Oxfam GB and its allies, says a handout.
“We need huge efforts to tackle honour killings. People have no idea how deep rooted they are,” said Fida Hussain Mastoi, assistant inspector general of police, Sindh, whose graphic presentation showed shocking images of actual victims. His case studies included incidents of husbands killing wives, brothers killing sisters and sons killing mothers, for a variety of dubious reasons. In one case, a person killed his wife and a man who had lent him money by declaring them karo and kari in an attempt to avoid paying back the debt.
In another case, a mother and two children, a five-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter, were killed in Jacobabad in January, this year. The father, who was also injured in the attack, was killed a few days later in a hospital. The couple had married against the will of their families. Most honour killings, Mr Mastoi said, were not because of sudden provocation, but they were “outcome of careful planning”. The campaign against honour killings is part of a broader project supported by Oxfam in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh that aims to change ideas and beliefs about violence against women.
During the inaugural session of the Pakistani launch, speakers rejected the notion that honour killings were rooted in native custom, insisting it was outright murder. “We have to engrave it in people’s minds that such violence is a crime,” said Irfan Mufti from South Asia Partnership Pakistan. “We have to end the concept of bad and good women,” he added, saying such a mindset encouraged violence against women.
The speakers criticised the law on honour killing, saying it failed to address core issues such as forgiveness and compromise deals over murders. “The element of compoundability makes the law a joke,” said I A Rehman, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, referring to the situation where one relative can forgive another for committing an honour killing within a family.
Former President Farooq Leghari urged the religious scholars to speak against honour killing, saying “it cannot be justified under any law, religion or custom”. Actress Samina Pirzada, who had performed in a musical video about honour killing, said women were living in fear because of discriminatory practices. “This has to change because I want to live, I want my daughters to live, I want all daughters to live fully and equally,” she said