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Pakistan cracks down on ‘honor killers’ with passage of new law

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. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lawmakers in Pakistan passed a much-anticipated new law that mandates a stiff penalty for those convicted of so-called honor killings and closes a legal loophole that has permitted the families of those who commit honor killings to forgive the perpetrator. The law wasn’t passed without fierce opposition, though, as a fiery four-hour debate preceded the vote. The new law mandates a minimum 25-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of carrying out an honor killing, and prohibits families of victims from forgiving the killer — a common occurrence in these tragic crimes.

Though there is opposition to the new law among deeply conservative Muslim clerics, more liberal advocates who have been demanding government intervention on the matter hailed the law’s passage as a turning point. “Honor killings are a cancer in our society,” Naveed Qamar, a member of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, said. “This law is being presented against this cancer.” More than 1,000 women have been killed last year in honor killings and a spate of recent killings, including the July death of 26-year-old social media star Qandeel Baloch, who was killed by her brother, drew increased attention to the problem and louder calls for change. Just this week, a chilling jailhouse interview with a Pakistani man who killed his sister emerged, providing insight into the honor killer’s mind. The man told The Associated Press he had “no choice” but to kill his 18-year-old sister because she had married a Christian man.

Some supporters of the new law want it to go even further in its punitive requirements.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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