Pakistan honour killings ‘on the rise’

Activists of The Pakistan People's Party hold placards at rally to mark International Women's Day in Karachi on March 8, 2016Image copyright

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More women in Pakistan are demanding an end to gender-related violence

Nearly 1,100 women were killed in Pakistan last year by relatives who believed they had dishonoured their families, the country’s independent Human Rights Commission says.

In its annual report the commission said 900 more women suffered sexual violence and nearly 800 took, or tried to take, their own lives.

In 2014 about 1,000 women died in honour-related attacks and 869 in 2013.

Correspondents say a large number of such crimes go unreported in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said there is no place in Islam for killing in the name of family honour.

“The predominant causes of these killings in 2015 were domestic disputes, alleged illicit relations and exercising the right of choice in marriage,” the report said.

Most of the 1,096 victims were shot, the report said, but attacks with acid were also common.

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The 2014 killing of Farzana Parveen by her relatives in Punjab triggered protests

Among the cases highlighted in the report are a man who shot dead his two sisters in Sargodha, Punjab, because he believed they had “bad character” and three teenage girls killed by their male cousin for “dishonouring” their family in Pakpattan, Punjab.

The report said that 88 men were also the victims of honour killings last year.

In February, Punjab, the country’s largest province, passed a landmark law criminalising all forms of violence against women.

However, more than 30 religious groups, including all the mainstream Islamic political parties, have threatened to launch protests if the law is not repealed.

Religious groups have equated women’s rights campaigns with promotion of obscenity. They say the new Punjab law will increase the divorce rate and destroy the country’s traditional family system.

Among the most infamous cases of honour killing in Pakistan was the stoning to death of Farzana Parveen in 2014 outside the High Court in Lahore. She had married against her family’s wishes.

Her father, brother, cousin and former fiance were all found guilty of murder. Another brother received a 10-year jail sentence.

The issue of honour killings in Pakistan inspired a documentary film, A Girl in the River – The Price of Forgiveness, which won its creator, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards.

In her acceptance speech, she said it was after seeing the film that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had vowed to change the law on honour killings.

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