Flipping through newspapers and surfing through news channels, we tend to come across a raft of ‘honour’ killings. There are several in Pakistan each year and sadly, many cases go unreported. Certain cases have gained a lot of media coverage, but that too only in recent times. One can only imagine the kind of countless tragedies that have played out in our society for decades with no one getting to know about them.
Some weeks ago, Shabana Bibi, from Muzaffargarh, was burnt to death by her callous husband and father-in-law for leaving the house to visit her sister without first asking for permission. Already, the poor woman was a victim of domestic violence, as her in-laws blamed her for not being able to produce offspring after having been married for over three years. All these reasons combined, seemed to be behind why her irrational husband took her life — all in the name of ‘honour’.
The practice of ‘honour’ killing is unlawful, but sadly that does not hold a lot of importance in our society. The law in any case has never held much importance in Pakistan; we just follow our own wishes instead of doing what is right and legal.
Since ours is a highly chauvinistic society, oppression persists, thus allowing such practices to continue in the country. It is mostly women who fall victim to ‘honour’ killings. Our male-dominated society tends to suppress women and their rights are hardly ever taken into consideration as can be seen from Shabana Bibi’s case and that of countless others. She was killed because she could not conceive and because she didn’t ask for permission before leaving the house. Is that really a reason to burn someone alive? Would something like this be done to a man? Can we imagine a wife burning her husband alive? No, right?
Medieval customs are mindlessly followed in our society and it seems that we don’t voice our concerns regarding this enough. Laws are made, such practices are made illegal, but that does not help eliminate their occurrence.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.