The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) strongly recommended that Farzana Parveen’s murderers should be tried under sections 302 and 311 of the Pakistan Penal Code, and her family should not be allowed to pardon the killer.
The commissions suggested that lawmakers and law enforcement agencies must ensure stringent punishment for such heinous crimes. One of the options they suggested was to amend the law to make murder in the name of honour a crime against the state and remove the options of pardon or financial settlement.
The commissions stressed that these measures need to be accompanied by long-term efforts to change the mindset around women’s rights as equal citizens. They recommended the ongoing sensitisation of both law enforcers and society at large.
Khawar Mumtaz, chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women, and Fauzia Viqar, who heads the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, issued a statement expressing their shock and grief at the murder of 25-year-old Farzana Parveen by her family outside the Lahore High Court on Tuesday for marrying a man of her choice.
They said it was appalling that an adult woman exercising her legal right to marry was murdered in broad daylight in the presence of a large number of bystanders, none of whom took any action to stop the perpetrators. They said the apathy of law enforcement personnel tasked with ensuring the security of citizens and of any lawyers who might have been present at the court was of particular concern. They said the incident pointed to the impunity with which the so-called ‘honour killings’ were taking place in the country.
An Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report says 869 incidents of killing of women under misplaced notions of honour were reported in 2013. These statistics, they said, were compiled from newspapers and did not reflect the unreported incidents. Mumtaz and Viqar pointed to the reasons behind the prevalent impunity and lack of reporting. They said the lack of prosecution and out-of-court settlements were enabled by the Qisas and Diyat laws, which permitted pardon by the victim’s family.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2014.