Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pakistan to pass a law banning "honor killing"

After the "honor killing" of an outspoken media star Qandeel Baloch by her brother, Pakistan's ruling party is making moves to pass long-delayed legislation to ban honor killings.

The daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Sharif, made the announcement on July 20. She said the bill will go before the legislature very soon. The present law allows family members to pardon a killer in cases where the killing is considered to be defending the honor of the family. The brother said that he was incensed by Baloch's often risqué posts on social media. Qandeel Baloch had become a household name for her posts of bold, sometimes raunchy, photographs, video and comments, in one case with a Muslim cleric. In Pakistani society where many hold conservative values, opinions are divided on this case. The brother strangled Baloch. In an unusual move, the government itself is a complainant in the case. The killing was designated as a crime against the state, and this blocked Baloch's family from forgiving the son for the crime.
Some 500 Pakistani women die from "honor killings" each year. Honor killings are a problem globally. Most of the victims are women but not all. According to Wikipedia: In 2000, the United Nations estimated that 5,000 women were victims of honor killings each year.[18] According to BBC, "Women's advocacy groups, however, suspect that more than 20,000 women are killed worldwide each year."[19] Murder is not the only form of honor crime, other crimes such as acid attacks, abduction, mutilations, beatings occur; in 2010 the UK police recorded at least 2,823 such crimes.[20]
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said his government wants to pass the law unanimously and has been negotiating with religious parties. In the past, the two main religious parties have opposed banning honor killings but this time Jamaat-e-Islami said it would not oppose the bill. Maryam Sharif said: "We have finalised the draft law in the light of negotiations. The final draft will be presented to a committee of joint session of parliament on July 21 for consideration and approval." The upper house of parliament had passed the bill in 2014 but the government failed to put it up for a vote apparently because it was more concerned with legislation dealing with security and economic reforms. However, now a senior government official claimed that all major parties were in support of the bill and it was likely to be passed by a joint session of parliament within a few weeks.

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