SWAT: Swat has witnessed the murder of 44 women in the name of “honour” during the current year, many of which have been concealed under the name of suicide, non-government organisation Awakening has revealed in a study.
Speaking with Pakistan Today, the NGO’s director Irfan Hussain Babak said that the rate at which “honour killings” were being carried out this year had increased sharply from last year. The year 2016 had seen 53 cases of honour killings in Swat. The NGO, which works for women’s rights in Swat and provides legal aid to families of the victims, has revealed that a lot of these cases are disguised as suicides.
Swat police have denied the reliability of these reports. Figures taken by Mingora superintendent of police (SP) claim that there had been 11 instances of honour killings this year, while there had been 6 cases in 2016.
Mingora Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Habibullah told Pakistan Today that Swat police were working hard to tackle the issue of honour killings in the district. He said that cases of honour killings would be filed by the state now, expressing his hopes that this would deter the evil practice and bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. According to the police, three cases have been filed by the state and are all under hearing at court.
The police said that members of the victims’ families were usually involved in honour killings and to prevent themselves from disgrace, the other aggrieved family members did not bring the cases to the police, preferring the local jirgas to resolve the matter instead. If the police did make arrests, people did not appear before court to testify. This allowed criminals to escape readily from punishment, they said.
Swat bar senior lawyer Sohail Sultan observed that Swat came under the provincially administered tribal areas and therefore many laws which safeguarded women’s rights had not been extended to the area, which was a direct cause of the growing number of honour killings in Swat.
According to the Swat’s women jirga head Tabassum Adnan, the main reason for the rise of honour killings in Swat was the lack of effective legislation, which allowed criminals to run free without fear of punishment.
According to a woman social worker, the strong grip of traditions over the people was the main cause of such practices in the district, since the traditions barred women from gaining higher education and practising their choice in marriage. When a woman tries to marry by her own choice, she becomes a victim of honour killing, she said.
The civil society of Swat has expressed concerns and recorded protests against the rising incidents of honour killings in the district, subjecting NGOs, government policies and law enforcement agencies to sharp criticism for failing to prevent such events from happening.