Honour Killing in Pakistan
There is absence of historical background in Islam for ‘honor killing’. No verse in the Holy Quran and nor a saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him) sanctions such crimes. The practical way as laid down by the religion in case of adultery and fornification is to truly and sincerely repent to God, regret their sins and commit themselves to never repeating them again. Only God will forgive the sins. This is demonstrated by the following verse;
Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor kill lives which Allah has made sacred, except for just cause, nor commit fornication, and any person that does this meets punishment, and their penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled, and they will dwell therein in ignominy, unless they repent, believe and perform righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
- Verse 68, Chapter 25, Holy Quran
It must be noted that the ‘crimes of passion’ are not limited to Muslims only. A case in point is that of 1,200 murders of women murdered in the United States of America by their boyfriends and husbands. It demonstrates that these crimes occur in the most developed part of the world irrespective of race and religion. Such murders be condemned and punished as Islam lays great stress on the sanctity of life.
The practice of killing in the name of ‘honor’ is in reality an act of murder. Murderers invoke religion to justify their action and to gain sympathy, support and endorsement for their heinous act. The teachings of Islam are confused with local customs and traditions. 933 individuals lost their lives in the last two years in the name of honor on a query raised by an MNA on February 2, 2016. The figure was provided by the Federal Ministry of Law.
In Pakistan, men and women have been subject to honor killings in all parts of the country. Women are dependent on their fathers and other male members of their respective families. It is not always the question of having illicit relations between a woman and man to murder in the name of ‘honour’. It has been attributed to ‘fixing’ of land disputes’ , desire to contract another marriage , removing a woman to inherit her share in the ancestral property and to take revenge from another clan/ tribe have been several root causes where the life of a woman is taken in our patriarchal society.
Human Rights activists have been actively advocating and lobbying to sensitize and aware all the strata of society to end this menace purported in the name of ‘honor’. There has been recorded evidence that it affects equally the lives of a woman in a hermit and in a mansion. The only difference is that it gets unnoticed hushed up in case an elite family is concerned through the support of state agencies. The agencies those by virtue of their responsibility are responsible to bring the culprits to face the impending living in a gallows.
The situation needs to be addressed from myriad perspectives. It should begin from home. It is not the honor of a girl / women that needs to be protected and guarded. It should not be substituted with family’s honor. The girl / woman like the male members of the family have an inclusive right to protect and guard her honor herself. An act of a male member of the family should also be a source of family honor. Why we remain silent spectators and show our indifference when an act of a male family member brings disgrace to a family?
On the contrary, it is not the girl / woman who has done a misgiving but as a soft target in a patriarchal society is subjected to a ‘created / crafted’ case of being denounced of bringing the family honor to shame just to have ‘quick fixes’ over a piece of land or any other family dispute between two warring families/ Bedari.
The premiere of Sharmeen Obaid’s documentary, A Girl in the River: The price of Forgiveness at the Prime Minister House should not been limited to securing a space in news paper front pages. The current Prime Minister is not new to the seat of authority. It is high time for the political government to not only ‘plug loopholes in existing laws to eliminate honor killings but simultaneously undertake measures for opening up spaces for girls/ women’s education and skill improvement to have less dependency and be an equal contributor to meet her individual needs and contribute in the family exchequer. As the root cause is always a girl’s and a woman’s absence of choices and dependency on monetary well being on the male members of her family.
Cosmetic measures by the political government by screening of the documentary in the PM House should be supplemented by consistent measures for equal and quality access to social security services of the state. As the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif aptly stated;
There is no honour in honour-killing…Islam especially emphasizes on women’s rights’
The entire nation is watching. The PM must not stop beyond the hosting of the documentary and the issuance of a press release. There is a need for a top up approach to curb this menace. The most immediate step will be for the honorable PM to create ample opportunities for women within his political party apart from his daughter Maryam Nawaz to be encouraged to rise on decision making positions. Women are to be elevated from the position of mere ‘presence’ and a silent spectators of followers within the political party fold to be the ‘voice of a decision-maker’ that matters. The tangible changes begin within the respective party’s rank. This will give a strong message to the ‘men in influential positions’ to respect women not for their beauty but for their brains. A good precedence will serve as a catalyst for change for others to apply and follow in other avenues across the board.
In addition, permanent dependency syndrome packages pertaining to education, health and income needs a revisit and a revamping to move the nation on the road to financial independence through heavy investment in education, health and skill improvement as per the need and requirement of the prevailing and emerging market needs. This will address the core issue on sustainable basis.
The immediate need of stopping an end to this menace is also to work simultaneously through the sensitization of the teachers, lady health workers and other care givers to educate the future generations to respect the opinion, choice and life of others as of their respective self. Life is sacred and must be protected and respected irrespective of case, color and creed. In addition, the role of print and electronic media cannot be ignored. In pen portrayal of women, ‘stereotypes’ are not needed. Women are portrayed to be the voices of moderation, reason and carriers of respect, trust, consultation, tolerance and the support for the family as a unit. The rippling effect of these measures will transform the society for the peace and tranquility of the society towards social, human and economic growth of the country.
This Opinion is written by Aaliya Tahirkheli
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Eurasian News and Dispatch News Desk. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.