Pakistan’s parliament recently voted unanimously to toughen the laws against so-called “honor killings.” The United States commends the efforts of Pakistan to end this barbaric practice.
The newly passed legislation restricts the ability of family members to forgive those convicted of committing a so-called “honor killing” – a practice that had previously allowed many convicted killers to avoid prison. Forgiveness is now only allowed if someone convicted of a so-called “honor killing” is sentenced to death, in which case the sentence can be commuted to life in prison.
“Honor killings” have long been a serious problem in Pakistan and in recent years public outrage against this practice has grown. According to a study, more than 1,000 women were killed last year in honor killings, often by male relatives who believed the victims had tarnished the family name by marrying a man of their own choosing, or even sitting or meeting with a man.
There have been several particularly outrageous killings in recent months. Qandeel Baluch, a social media celebrity and feminist, was choked to death by her brother; a mother, with the help of her son, strangled and set fire to her daughter because she married a man of her own choosing; a teenage girl was tied up in a car and set on fire on orders of Tribal leaders, allegedly for helping a friend elope.
The legislation, strengthening punishments for so-called “honor killing” “is an important step toward protecting women and girls in Pakistan,” said U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby, “and promoting their full participation in society. Raising social awareness and holding perpetrators accountable are critical next steps, and we will continue to support Pakistan’s efforts.”
No woman anywhere should have to die for choosing whom she will marry or how to conduct her life.