By: Inzamam Qasim Silachi
Balochistan is immensely vast province with an area of 135,050 square kilometers. This province is enriched in minerals, centuries old rituals, traditions and cultures. Tradition is often used as a pretext to justify some reprehensible practices that perpetuate low status of man and woman in its society. This beleaguered province is confronting numerous chronic problems and one of them is Honor Killing. It can be elucidated as a murder of a man or a woman when it is perceived that any act is committed which has brought shame or disgrace upon family or community. Women are always perceived as subservient to man and adding insult to injury in the patriarchal society of Balochistan there is no dignified room for a woman. In the 21 century they are confined to home, their rights are subjugated and if they dare to go against the traditions they become victim of honor killing.
In the recent few weeks surge in the honor killing cases is horrifying, mostly cases of it erupted in Sibi, Jhalmagsi, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Dera Bugti and Kachhi which are most backward and underprivileged districts of Balochistan. There appalling numbers of murders were perpetrated with impunity and several naïve and innocent girls lost precious lives but the cases are still unregistered and neglected.
According to UNO report on honor killing every year about 5000 women are killed on the name of honor in the world. The report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan HRCP and NGOs working in Balochistan for human rights and woman empowerment divulged the gut wrenching realities that approximately 76 women braved violence in 2016 in which 36 women mostly teen age girls lost their lives in the notorious saga of honor killings in Balochistan. The Human Rights Committee has stated that the “commission of so called ‘honour’ crimes which remain unpunished constitutes a serious violation if the ICCPR”, in particular articles 6 (right to life), 14 (the equal rights of men and women before courts and tribunals) and 26 (equal entitlement of men and women to legal protection).
Mostly honor killings occur because of alleged illicit relation, domestic disputes, choice marriages and practicing of nonexistent traditions. The misinterpretation of religion has also played a centre role in propagating the honor killing. The girls were killed when they eloped and were later caught. In the honor killing mostly heirs are main culprits who escape by money compensation or by Islamic laws, Qisas and Diyat. However, 40 Islamic Scholars belonging to Sunni Ittehad Council ( SIC) issued a decree (Fatwaa) declaring the murder of women or girls in the name of honor as a un-Islamic and unpardonable sin. This disastrous issue was highlighted after the assassination of famous TV actress model Qandeel Baloch in the name of honor and a wave of condemnation came from every corner of the country. After the documentary, A Girl in the River which put a light on this issue which is playing havoc and a bill was unanimously passed in National Assembly against the honor killing. In which government pledged zero tolerance for the convicts.
Malik Hukam Khan, advisor to Ministry of law and justice, assured the media that life imprisonment of twelve-and-a-half years have been declared mandatory for the offender proved guilty of killing in the name of honor. The appalling number of eye soaring incidents of honor killing demonstrates that the bill is still far away from implementation and practice. There are still loopholes in our justice system where these kind of brutal killings are carried out in the pretext of Tradition or Honor. The unresolved issue of honor killings has devoured several lives.
The effective way to reduce the incidence of honor killing is that we should emancipate women from shackles of catastrophic and nonexistent traditions. The lack of education is also further deteriorating the situation. Education is the only tool by which women could recognize their legitimate rights. Still the daughters of Balochistan demand the right to live from the government and people. By our mutual collaboration we have to prove this that there is no honor in killing.
The writer is doing BS in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad.
Published in The Balochistan Point on March 9, 2017