Honor Killings on the Rise in Pakistan

Honor killings in Pakistan have risen 25 percent since last year, according to Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission (HRC). In 2002, 461 women were murdered by their family members for reasons ranging from suspected adultery to poor cooking, CNN reports. A senior official of the group, Kamla Hayat told the Associated Press that the rise in the number of honor killings, from 372 last year, may be due to people’s willingness to report the crimes, showing a growing opposition to the practice in some regions.

The HRC report focused primarily on the provinces of Sindh, where 300 honor killings occurred this year, and Punjab, where 161 women or girls were killed by their relatives. According to the Commission’s current figures, out of the 161 women slain in Punjab, 67 were killed by their brothers, 49 by their husbands, and in seven cases, sons had killed their mothers, FOX News reports.

Hayat told the AP that the HRC was still in the process of compiling a report of crimes against women in Pakistan, but stated that they lacked resources to conduct research in other provinces such as Baluchistan and the North Western Frontier. Both are strongly conservative Muslim provinces who share borders with Afghanistan, where the brutal rule of the Taliban introduced a much harsher interpretation of Islam to the region. HRC suspects that the number of honor killings would be higher if data could be collected from the more conservative regions.

The HRC accused the Pakistani government of failing to protect women from honor killings, and urged them to do more to improve women’s rights in the country, according to CNN. Although the current government has made repeated promises to improve the condition of women’s lives, extremist Islamic parties made a strong showing in the October parliamentary elections. In addition, a local Pakistani tribal council issued an edict in June ordering an 18-year-old girl Mukhtiar Bibi to be gang raped by six men as a punishment for her teenage brother’s sexual relations with an older woman from another tribe. The case caused regional and international outrage, and the six men were sentenced to death. But culprits of honor killings are rarely punished, CNN reports.


Associated Press 12/11/02; FOX News 12/11/02; CNN 12/12/02; Feminist Daily News Wire

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