Fasiha Farrukh's Blog
Do Not “Honour” Kill HER!
Date: 8 February 2016
Author: Fasiha Farrukh
Surrounded by rocky mountains, on a vast flat terrain, there is a hole dug in between and a few men are present close by. Suddenly, they start shouting and throwing pebbles and rocks in the direction of that hole. The tormented and throbbing shrieks escalate stridently as the velocity of the rocks elevated. After a few more moments, the deafening combination of rocks and shrieks halted.
Rukhsana, a young Afghan woman standing in that hole, was dead in the name of “honour”!
This is the very well-known scenario amongst all those who have read the news and watched the video of Rukhsana’s killing. Just because she refused to marry as per her family will. In custom bound societies, this is a highly intolerable matter which ends up taking the life of many women. The heinous and cold-blooded murder of Rukhsana reminds us of numerous cases which occurred in Pakistan, where women have been killed mercilessly to secure the so-called nobility of the immediate family and even of those who are not related to that woman in any way. This tribal or social custom is plaguing the society and the lives of many innocents, who chose to go against this harmful cultural practice.
Stoning is not the only method of Honour killing. Stabbing, beating, burning, beheading, hanging, throat slashing, lethal acid attacks, shooting and strangulation are also practiced. The inadequate laws and their implementations are the main reasons that the authorities are not succeeding in ending these practices. According to a study conducted in 2011 by the Aurat Foundation, the majority of the cases take place in rural areas where feudalism is at its peak and women are treated as a personal property in a male-dominated society. Another reality is that these feudal lords have a stronghold in their districts, which bars the authorities from taking action against them. As a result, little or no action is taken against them and they continue to commit these heinous violations of human rights laws, despite huge criticism and protests from human rights activists and organizations.
In Pakistan, more than 933 people were executed in the name of “honour” in the last two years according to the government. These are reported figures, as there are several cases, which go unreported due to the life threats to the families of the victims. Although ‘Honour’ killings continue to occur, in 2004, Pakistan passed a law under which the punishment of ‘Honour’ killings would be the death penalty in the acute scenarios or seven years in prison. So far, capital punishment has not been applied and most cases appear to be swept under the carpet and forgotten after some media attention.
Amongst the 12 crucial areas of concern in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the United Nations has clearly shown its trepidation over violence against women in many forms. This declaration binds all the signatories or member states to ensure that it is impeding any sort of injustice faced by girls and women, along with devising legislations that will help in preventing this violence and endorsing gender equality for a healthier society.
As a member state of the United Nations, Pakistan should adhere to ending the culture of ‘Honour’ killing with all earnestness. That is only possible with effective measures and stern regulations by the government, plus, understanding the fact that women are a crucial element for the progress of the country. There is a need to perform a major shift in the government policies and attitudes at every level with the assistance of awareness-raising campaigns to deal with this harmful practices in Pakistan.