Rights activists and legal experts have demanded that the government make amendments in the honour killing law, making the crime as a non-compoundable offence and ensure its enforcement.
“Despite honour killing laws, the frequency of the violence against women has increased,” Nasreen Zehra, resident director of the Aurat Foundation, said on Friday.
She was addressing a consultation held to propose amendments to the honour killing law.
Quoting from a 2011 Aurat Foundation survey, Zehra said that violence against women was highest in the Punjab with 322 of 705 cases being reported from the province. As many as 245 cases of violence against women were recorded in the province in 2009 and 233 cases in 2010.
“We need to deliberate over the reason of these crimes despite improved legal safeguards” Zehra said.
Advocate Hassim Qadir Shah talked about the technical aspect of the law. He said survivors or heirs of victims could “abandon prosecution at their free will, pardon the criminal at any stage before the execution of the sentence, accept monetary or other compensation to purge the crime and the criminal or may accept qisas from the criminal”.
The speakers also proposed that the word ‘offence’ be replaced by the word ‘qatl’ in the Section 299 of the Pakistan Penal Code (mischief on earth).
Justice (retired) Nasira Iqbal said there should be no compoundability in honour killing. She said honour killing must be declared a non-compoundable offence, adding, “The kind of compoundability offered currently is only favouring the rich.”
Syed Afzal Haider Shah was of the view that taking law in one’s hands was un-Islamic.
Former MNA Mehnaz Rafi said the definition in the laws of qisas and diyat must be examined.
“We have failed to understand the essence of these laws,” she said. She said police’s increasing corruption was also one of the reasons behind increased cases of violence against women.
She regretted that most police officers obstructed registration of cases of violence against women, especially honour killing.
Civil Lines DSP Raza Safdar Kazmi said that police officials needed to be better sensitised about such violence. He said the women also needed to register their cases at “proper forums in a proper manner”. The event was organised by the Legislative Watch Programme of the Aurat Foundation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2012.