UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday strongly deplored the cold blooded murder of Farzana Iqbal, a 25 year old pregnant woman, who was stoned to death by her family in front of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Pillay said that it was government’s neglect that led to her death.
“I am deeply shocked by the death of Farzana Iqbal, who, as in the case of so many other women in Pakistan, was brutally murdered by members of her own family simply because she married a man of her own choice,” stated Pillay. While deploring the way the woman was murdered she said, “I do not even wish to use the phrase ‘honour killing’: there is not the faintest vestige of honour in killing a woman in this way.”
Farzana of Chak 167, Jaranwala, was going to testify that she intentionally married her husband and that her family had wrongly accused her husband of kidnapping her.
While she was waiting outside LHC, near a mosque, members of her family opened fire, which narrowly she escaped. However, following which, her father, brother and dozen other men started pelting her with stones and bricks, as revealed by SP Civil Lines SP Umar Riaz Cheema.
A dozen security officials were present at the LHC at the time of the incident.
Pillay said that hundreds of women are killed in Pakistan as retribution for marrying the man of their choice, or denying arranged marriage.
According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan around 869 women were ‘honour killed’ last year in Pakistan. However accurate figure could me much higher as many deaths are not reported at all.
The High Commissioner exhorted that, “The government must take urgent and strong measures to put an end to the continuous stream of so-called ‘honour killings’ and other forms of violence against women”
While emphasising that, “the government must make measures to protect women like Farzana Iqbal,” she said that it was the neglect of the government in saving a women, who was murdered, while she was on her way to court. “The fact that she was killed on her way to court, shows a serious failure by the State to provide security for someone who – given how common such killings are in Pakistan – was obviously at risk.”
Pillay also criticised the Diyat and Qisas laws of the country, “People who carry out ‘honour crimes’ are rarely prosecuted, and even when they are, they often receive absurdly light sentences, considering they have committed pre-meditated murder.”
“Such provisions are particularly pernicious when members of the same family that conducted the killing are given the right to pardon the killers.”
The committee on the elimination of Discrimination against women (CEDAW) that reviewed the Pakistan’s record on women rights previous year, articulated that despite amended criminal law act of 2004 that punishes offenses in the name of honour killing, two ordinances Qisas and Diyat continue to be used to pardon the perpetrators by the members of the same family who carry out the disgraced act.
The UN Committee called on Pakistan to attend to the limitations of the criminal law and abolish all requirements under which the perpetrators of Honour killing are are allowed to escape the penalty.
The UN general assembly had previously urged the member states through three separate resolutions 2001, 2003 and 2005 to increase governmental, educational, social efforts to prevent “honour killings”. It had also pushed for prompt investigations and immediate prosecutions of the perpetrators.