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Pakistani civil society activists carry placards during a protest in Islamabad on July 18, 2016 against the murder of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch by her own brother.


Pakistan bills tackling “honor killings” and rape convictions unanimously passed

By WITW Staff on July 22, 2016

A committee made up of lawmakers from both the lower and upper houses of the Pakistan parliament has unanimously approved long-delayed bills that aim to prevent “honor killings” and increase rape convictions, meaning they can be voted on within weeks.

The move follows a spate of high-profile killings in the country, including the strangulation death last week of social media star Qandeel Baloch by her brother. Waseem Azeem confessed to her murder, claiming the embarrassment her online presence had caused was intolerable. “I was determined either to kill myself or kill her,” he told The Associated Press. Such crimes often go unpunished because the perpetrator can seek forgiveness from other family members, although in the case of Baloch’s murder, the government of Punjab province banned her family from officially forgiving their son.

Pakistani social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch arrives for a press conference in Lahore, on June 28, 2016. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch arrives for a press conference in Lahore, on June 28, 2016. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Rape convictions are close to zero, The Express Tribune reports, primarily due to the legal requirements on circumstantial evidence and a lack of forensic testing.

Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, who chaired the committee, said, “We have plugged all loopholes in the anti-honor killing legislation, which will be put up for approval at a joint sitting of parliament soon.”

Under the new law, relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer of capital punishment, but the perpetrator would still face a mandatory life sentence of 12-and-a-half years, Hamid said.

In the anti-rape bill, “a provision to conduct DNA tests on both the alleged victim and perpetrator has been added for the first time,” he said.

Rape of minors, and the mentally and physically ill, would become punishable by death.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ruling PML-N party has a large majority of seats in the lower house and the bills are believed to have enough backing from opposition parties to pass in the senate too.

Read the full story at The Express Tribune.


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