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Press Release - May 28, 2014 - BRUTAL MURDER OF A WOMAN IN THE NAME OF 'SO CALLED HONOUR'

May 28, 2014

In a statement given by Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson of National Commission on the Status of Women and Fauzia Viqar, Chairperson Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, they expressed their shock and grief at the stoning to death of a 25-year-old woman by her family outside the Lahore High Court on Tuesday for marrying the man of her choice.

“It is appalling” they said that “an adult woman who was exercising her legal right to marry was murdered in broad daylight in the presence of a large number of bystanders, none of whom took any action to stop the perpetrators.” They also felt that the apathy of the law enforcement personnel tasked with ensuring security of citizens and, of any lawyers who may have been present in the High Court is of particular concern.

This incident points at the impunity with which killings in the name of honour are occurring throughout the country. According to the report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 869 cases of killing on the pretext of honour were reported in 2013 alone. These figures are largely compiled from newspapers and do not reflect the actual numbers which go unreported.

The reasons for prevalent impunity are cultural practices preventing reporting, lack of prosecution and out of court settlements under the Qisas and Diyat law that permits pardon by the victim's family.

Considering the brutality in the case of Farzana Iqbal, the Commissions strongly recommend that perpetrators be tried under sections 302 and 311 of the Pakistan Penal Code and heirs not be allowed to compound the offence.

Furthermore the Commissions suggest serious reflection by law-makers and law enforcement agencies on ensuring stringent punishments for such heinous crimes. Among options is one of amending the law to make murder in the name of “so called honour”, a crime against the State and removing the option of pardon or financial settlement.

These measures need to be accompanied by long term efforts for mind set change for women’s fundamental human rights and their rights as equal citizens. The Commissions recommend on-going sensitization of law enforcers and society at large.

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