Moral Low Ground


1,000 Pakistani Women & Girls Murdered in ‘Honor Killings’ in 2011

Nearly 1,000 women and girls were the victims of “honor killings” in Pakistan in 2011, the country’s leading human rights group claims.

The Telegraph reports that the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released its annual report in which the group claims at least 943 women were killed in 2011 for “damaging their family name.” These women and girls are murdered by fathers, husbands and brothers, and the real death toll is believed to be much higher because many “honor killings” are recorded as suicides or go completely unreported. Many cases are also covered up by relatives and police officers.

“Throughout the year, women were callously killed in the name of ‘honor’ when they went against family wishes in any way, or even on the basis of suspicion that they did so,” the HRCP report states. “Women were sometimes killed in the name of ‘honor’ over property disputes and inheritance rights.”

The report also says that police have acted as a “coercive force” against women.

While activists have praised Pakistani lawmakers for passing legislation targeting violence against women, such as a February law which finally made domestic violence a criminal offense, much work remains to be done. Laws can change, but changing a traditional society’s deep-seated cultural attitudes will take much longer.

“It’s great that we have new legislation but without the police and the courts reforming, changing their attitude to women, then nothing can change,” Sana Saleem of the rights group Bolo Bhi (Speak Up) told The Telegraph.

Too often, those who do speak up against the deplorable situation for women in Pakistan are themselves the targets of violence.

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