After the approval


    Approving the anti honour killing bill is one thing implementing it will be the real challenge

    The bill that Maryam Nawaz spoke of also considers the religious aspects, said Samia. Islam does not allow killing in the name of honour.

    Murder is murder, whether it’s done in the name of honour or otherwise, and the accused should not go unpunished.

    The influence of human rights groups and the reaction of the civil society to the atrocious crime of “honour killing” have finally led to the development that makes it a non-compoundable offence.

    The Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Zahid Hamid on Thursday announced that the Anti-honour killing bill and anti-rape bill were both approved unanimously by a committee consisting of legislators from the upper and lower houses of the parliament.

    “Both bills will be passed unanimously by the joint sitting of parliament in early August. Implementation should be ensured as soon as possible and inadequacies in the laws have been tackled,” said Zahid Hamid.

    “As the government failed to take the bill to the NA within 90 days last year, we moved a resolution that it should be taken up in a joint session,” said Senator Farhatullah Babar.

    “The approval of the bills is likely as a consensus was reached on both bills,” said Babar. “We have sought to tackle the legislative loopholes that protected the honour killings.”

    The bills were passed to amend the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, to address the loopholes that allow the accused to walk free of charges as they can seek forgiveness from another member of the family.

    The pro-women bills have overcome the initial hurdles but they require the approval of the National Assembly and presidential agreement to become laws.

    Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2014, was initially moved by Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) former Senator, Syeda Sughra Imam. The bill was passed by the senate in 2015 but the Government failed to get it approved by the National Assembly within the limited period of 90 days.

    Recently, Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) plans to pass long-delayed legislation against “honour killings” within weeks in the wake of the high-profile murder of social media sensation, QandeelBaloch.

    “Although, Maryam Nawaz is not a serving parliamentarian or a legislator, but her statement can be considered as the official statement of the party,” PML-N’s, Siddique-ul-Farooq told DNA.

    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ruling PML-N party has the majority of seats in the lower house and the opposition parties also support the bills which indicates that the legislation is more likely to get approved in the NA this year.

    ‘Next Step: Focus on Implementation’

    “The political elite come from the mentality where honour is still associated with women’s body so somehow they are still representing a chauvinistic ideology that becomes an obstacle for the legislation to pass,” said Ali Imran, a member of Legislative Watch Group Aurat Foundation.

    The political elite come from the mentality where honour is still associated with womens body so somehow they are still representing a chauvinistic ideology that becomes an obstacle for the legislation to pass, said Ali Imran, a member of Legislative Watch Group Aurat Foundation.

    “The police and the prosecutors also support the principles behind honour killing and support the killers,” Ali said.

    “It’s evident that the state has failed to protect women. The framework for an effective response is to have a mechanism to assess the implementation of those laws. Women protection law has been passed but no rules have yet been set to ensure the implementation,” Ali added.

    “It’s the responsibility of the government to develop a system that can assess whether the law is being executed or not,” said Ali Imran.

    “Honour killing is a hate crime. So the responsibility of political leaders to prevent this crime is to bring a change in the mindset. The perpetrators receive support from the masses since our cultural values have been misinterpreted to justify this heinous crime,” said Ali.

    “We continue to see hate crimes against religious minorities, women and transgenders. The majority tries to dominate the weaker minorities by using violence as a measure,” Ali told DNA.

    The political parties are also unfortunately bound by the cultural and social norms. To regard superficial values such as ‘honour’ superior over human life has been instilled in our mindset through socialisation.

    It is not possible for laws to completely eradicate a crime but if the prime minister wants to end ‘honour’ killings, the first step is to start educating people to change their attitudes towards this crime.

    “The role of the civil society is to spread awareness and expose women to understand their fundamental rights,” said‎ Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson, Fauzia Viqar.

    “The implementation of the anti-honour killing law will only be effective if the public stands against this brutal act of killing,” said Fauzia. “The collective efforts of rights groups pressurised the govt to take action.”

    The real problem is that our patriarchal society associates honour with a woman’s body. Women are still considered as ‘property’ even in this civilised era.

    The ignorant masses do not consider their ‘honour’ being affected when a woman belonging to a religious minority in Lahore is raped, stripped, beaten.

    The reaction to a woman defying stereotypical gender roles is more outrageous than their reaction towards a hundred kids in Kasur being raped and videotaped.

    The Pakistani government’s inability to take compelling measures to end the atrocious act of honour killings previously has set an indicative of the weakening of political institutions, corruption, and economic decline. Therefore, the long-delayed bills should set an effective example to overcome the failure of the authorities to prevent these killings, in addition to the safety of its people by investigating and punishing the perpetrators.

    “There are a lot of obstacles that are to be faced with implementing a law,” said Dr Samia Raheel Qazi member of Council Islamic Ideology. “In a civilised society, the execution of a law becomes effective as soon as the legislation has formed.”

    “However, in our society, democracy is still making its way into the society. As of now, whoever is in power gets his way, and the weak are left unheard,” said Samia.

    “The bill that Maryam Nawaz spoke of also considers the religious aspects,” said Samia. “Islam does not allow killing in the name of honour.”

    “The public needs to be educated to understand the value of human life. We need to educate the society that honour killing is murder and there is no justification for it,” Samia told DNA.

    “Instead of resolving the matter within the family, the culprit should be punished because laws and legislations are passed to protect the public,” said Samia.

    Honour killings are a violation of human rights that need to be addressed on a larger scale.

    The approval of the Anti- honour killing bill and the anti-rape bill should be set as a firm example of consequences against such hate crimes.

    The nation needs to understand that there is no honour in killing.

    (This article was co-authored by Aroma Shahid and Saneela Jawad)


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