Pakistani Christian activists have warmly welcomed the newfangled anti-honor killings law passed by the Parliament on Thursday, October 6. While expressing contentment over the legislation Christian and Muslim activists have expressed hope that the crimes of honor against women will now be curbed to some extent.
Honor killings “claim the lives of hundreds of victims every year”, the bill stated, adding that the legislation was “essential in order to prevent these crimes from being repeatedly committed.”
The anti-honor killing bill remained stuck in the National Assembly for two years eventually got a nod. The loophole that allowed killers to enjoy impunity due to a legal provision under which a relative of the victim could forgive the perpetrator has been done away with.
Christian activist struggling for women’s rights Sister Genevieve Ram Lal, who also holds the office of National Director of the Catholic Women Organization stated: “It is good news and a step in right direction.” She went on to explain that the old law “was a license to kill and people were using this excuse to settle personal grudges.”
In addition, the Aurat (women) Foundation noted that in 2012, 432 women were killed in the name of honor, in 2011 705, in 2010 557, in 2009 604 and in 2008 245 women perished due to bringing dishonor to their families. Sumera Saleem, Senior Program Manager at the Aurat Foundation in Lahore stated: “These figures do not include unreported cases or, indeed, the number of men who are often killed alongside women in the name of honor.”
“Both government and advocacy groups now have an even bigger responsibility to ensure the implementation of the bill. A strong strategy is needed against serial killing of women which has become a tradition,” she asserted.
Updated figures revealed that 94 cases of honor killings were recorded in the first seven months of 2016, in the province of Punjab alone. The murder of social media celebrity model Qandeel Baloch, is a notable incident in this series of killings in the name of honor. She was killed by her brother at her house in Multan over bringing disgrace to her family.