Sacrificing the life of a girl to save their honor has been an evil increasingly marring Pakistani households. The male members of a family prefer to kill the girl who is found eloping with a boy whom she wants to marry out of her choice.
In Pakistan, many women are not allowed freely to marry a person of their choice though the religion puts no strict restrictions on it. Observers say that given the insular attitudes of most Pakistani parents and deeply rooted cultural norms, a girl is forcefully married to someone as soon as she hits puberty or finds herself in a relationship. If she tries to refuse the proposal by protesting against it or leaves her home to save her life, she is found being humiliated to death.
Despite the many advancements and developments in media and information technology, the Pakistani society is still bound by many chains which hinder its progression. One of these chains is the violence committed against women.
It is an acknowledged fact that many women in Pakistan are subjected to domestic violence. In our patriarchal society, men are encouraged to show their dominance over women and are expected not to tolerate any kind of misbehavior from women. It is also the case that many men need to exert such authority and control over their wives in order to prove that they are ‘man enough’.
Domestic violence is not only physical, but verbal and psychological too. Many a times women are taunted and insulted by their husbands who abuse them on various occasions. Such conditions have aggravated since the early 2000's, as women have started to work outside of their homes.
However, in recent years, the government has substantial taken steps to eradicate domestic violence. A helpline number was introduced some time back by the government using which women subjected to domestic violence could contact government officials and seek help and protection against their oppressors. As women started to receive education, they became more aware of their rights ultimately standing up against violence and oppression. If we go by this term, domestic violence has decreased in the recent past.
Honour killings, another brutal form of domestic violence, are done in the name of honour as the name suggests. These are generally practiced in rural areas where if a girl is found to have any sort of relation with a man who is not her husband, is raped or killed in order to protect the honour and dignity of the family, without any authentic evidence at times. Such girls are considered as a blot on the family name for being involved in men.
This practice is considered as a part of many sub-cultures where people do not even realise that honour killing falls under the parameters of 'attempted murder'.
In Pakistan, honour killing cases were not reported at all. However, as awareness grew, people came to consider it as a heinous crime and more than 1000 cases were reported in 2021 as per World Bank's Report.
It is nonetheless important to create awareness about this issue, which Pakistan has taken action against. Ace filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy even produced an Oscar winning-documentary named 'A Girl in the River' which revolved around a girl who escaped getting killed in the name of honour. Such movies and documentaries receive widespread public, as well as, international support and play a major role in educating people. In February 2016, at the Prime Minister House, at the event of the screening of this film, PM Nawaz Sharif promised to eradicate all such evil practices and ensured full support and cooperation from his government.
The legislation on honour killings has introduced strict punishment for the convicts making it tougher than ordinary murder cases. Under the new law, relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer if he is sentenced to capital punishment. However, the culprit would still face a mandatory life sentence of twelve-and-a-half years.
Pakistan is alleged to have a lot of rape cases each year. We agree that there have been many cases of sexual harassment and rape that have surfaced in the past few years. Women are constantly being subjected to violence and this is an act that we strongly condemn. To this end, the government of Pakistan has taken a number of steps to bring down the number of rape cases and to punish the rapists strictly in accordance with the law.
Stand against honour killing. Take action now to support education, empowerment, and justice for victims. Together, we can end this curse.