Violence against women in Pakistan is growing every passing day. In the recent case, two Pakistani-origin Spanish sisters were allegedly shot dead as they could not get their respective husband’s visa to settle in Spain with them.
The incident took place in the Nathia village of Gujrat district in Pakistan’s Punjab province earlier this month.
Both the sisters, who are Spanish nationals, were married to their cousins in Pakistan more than a year ago, and were not happy with their marriages, reported Just Earth News, citing the police officials.
Cases of honour killing are frighteningly regular in Pakistan, especially in areas close to the tribal regions in the north and west.
More than 470 cases of “honour” killing were reported in Pakistan in 2021, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
In 2016, the murder of Qandeel Baloch, known as “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian”, by her brother Waseem Azeem sparked national outrage and demands for changes to the law. Azeem strangled her in her home in the Punjab province after she shared photos on Facebook of herself with a Muslim cleric.
Azeem was sentenced to life imprisonment but was acquitted in February this year after his parents sought his release. His lawyers used what is known as the Qisas and Diyat law to circumvent the new legislation.
According to Just Earth News, Pakistan is the sixth-most populated country in the world. But it’s one of the world’s worst performers when it comes to gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 gender gap report.
In a derogatory remark in 2021, Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “Men are not robots, ladies wearing small clothes impact them,” thereby subscribing to a view long refuted by a significant body of research that shows that sexual violence is a consequence of perpetrators dehumanising female bodies.
Other leaders and ministers have often defended jirga-ordered ‘honour killings’ in their provinces as ‘custom’.
In the name of honour killing, murder committed on the pretext of family honour, women in Pakistan continue to suffer in the hands of perpetrators legitimising their actions through a misplaced sense of justice.
According to a Supreme Court judgment in 2020, Pakistan has one of the highest per capita honour killings in the world. However, by using words like ‘honour’, the Pakistan society not only downplays the atrocity of the crime but legitimises it with a belief that ‘bad character’, particularly pertaining to a woman, needs to be punished or it will tarnish the community at large.