LAHORE: A session with senior journalists from leading media outlets was held to discuss the menace of killing women for honour. It was called Murder and Honour and was held at a local hotel on Wednesday.
BBC Urdu journalist and presenter Aliya Nazki and BBC Urdu Planning Editor Asif Farooqi hosted the event.
Aliya said that in more than 90 % of honor killing cases, it is women who are the victims. However, the allegations involve both a man and a woman. There were less than 10% cases in which men are harmed or killed.
The reason behind this, she said, is that society considers women “low, weak and subordinate”. Therefore, it wanted to keep asserting its control over them and used violence in the name of honour against them.
Figures showed that at least three women were killed in Pakistan on a daily basis in the name of honor. This was quite an alarming situation which needed attention, she said. “The reasons behind violence of such a magnitude must be debated thoroughly as the media does not give it proper attention,” Aliya added. She stressed that such news either appeared as a brief report or a single column story, “Follow ups of the cases are also rare.”
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Aurat Foundation and other organisations working for the rights of women depended on the media for their information. The data compiled by Aurat Foundation and HRCP was same as the source was the same.
According to it, Punjab has the most honour killing cases followed by Sindh and Baluchistan. Unlike popular perception, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has the least number of such incidents.
Asif Farooqi said that the categorisation, according to provinces, was upsetting for him. Farooqi said his organisation went to different parts of K-P where the cases were reported. In K-P and FATA, such cases also took place, but were not reported unlike Punjab and Sindh.
Tribal elders or family members of the victims threw the victim’s body into a canal or river and made it seem like a suicide. In Punjab, Sindh or urban centers, there was a lesser chance of hiding such cases.
Nasir Jamal, a senior journalist, said the reason such cases occurred more in urban centers was due to the saturation of the ‘middle class’ which was conservative in its mindset.
Aliya, quoting examples of some incidents, said it was not always “illicit relations” that led to the murder of a woman as was the popular perception. She said there were cases in which a victim was murdered for property, but it was presented as an honour killing.
In one case, a victim was shot dead for talking to her female friend on the phone. Her brother presumed she was talking to a boy. “There are countless cases in which women have been killed for such minor reasons other than illicit relations.”
Taking the debate further, she said that about 3,000 women were killed in two and a half years and this was the period after the bill against honor killing was tabled and passed in the National Assembly.
To a question on whether the law acted as a deterrent, Aliya replied there were still many lacunas in the legislation. However, unlike the past, when the offender just got away free after being pardoned by the victim’s family, the law now makes it mandatory for a convict to serve a prison term of at least 10 years. She pointed out that it was quite possible for offenders to start manipulating property dispute, or sudden provocation as honour killings.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2016.