Honour killings: Prosecution suffers from ‘Flawed FIR structure’

Study finds that the victim too is often partly blamed to soften stance on the murderer.


Rabia Mehmood December 20, 2011

LAHORE: The structure of an FIR must be altered, according to a study carried out by the Aurat Foundation on honour killings. The findings of the report titled “Honour killings and compliance of law” were released in Lahore on Tuesday.

The report which used four districts as sample groups – Gujrat (Punjab), Naseerabad (Balochistan), Nowshera (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) and Ghotki (Sindh) – focused on the impact of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2004, which officially acknowledged the existence of the barbaric practice of honour killings, but was far from addressing the real issue of impunity which encourages the practice.

Sindh High Court Advocate Maliha Zia Lari conducted the study and believed that the "bias towards the investigation of honour killings was not specific to a specific province." According to the compiled data, from 2008 and 2010, the number of cases of violence against women stood at 24,119, out of which 1,636 were reportedly honour killings.

The report analysed the structure of the FIR to gather that the language provided in FIRs lacked gender sensitivity and was generally dismissive towards violence against women. The study also revealed that in all four districts the motives such as “bad character, conversation and friendship with men, running away and wandering outside the house too often” were the most cited and often fairly vague. The report suggested that the police ask more questions during the filing of an FIR.

As per the findings of the report, the Peshawar High Court and Balochistan High Court said they had no cases recorded on honour killings. The Lahore High Court had more data of case laws and vigilant stances against 'ghairat' (honour) as an issue but there were many contradictory judgments also, which damaged the cause.

The apex court in Sindh took progressive stance against honour killings but the use of term 'masum-ul-dum' was often used in judgments, this term in effect lays part of the blame on the victim and softens the motive of the murderer.

Justice (Retd) Nasira Javed said "in the end the judgment on honour killings comes down to whether the judge is conservative or progressive, because the investigation has too many loop-holes and the law has lacunas."

The report suggests that there is a need to establish complete coordination between the police and courts in case of honour killings to make sure that the data is available and proper case laws are present to ensure better judgments. It is also suggested the need for capacity enhancing and training of police for documenting honour killings cases.

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