Nearly 5,000 women in Pakistan are killed annually mostly for reasons linked to social issues of “honour and harassment”, a human rights activist has said. “On an average, 5,000 women are murdered every year compared to 1,442 men. While the male casualties are primarily related to terrorism, the women’s killings are mostly linked to social issues of honour and harassment,” rights activist Sarwar Bari said here yesterday.
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Speaking at a consultation workshop, ‘Making workplace safe for women’, on the eve of the International Women’s Day, Bari said Pakistan has deviated from the vision of its founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah as political parties never dared to stand against so-called religious scholars who have been opposing pro-women laws in the country.
Bari said that in 1928, women of the subcontinent held a demonstration against early marriages. Jinnah reached the spot to express solidarity with the protesters, he said.
“Today religious scholars resist all kinds of legislation in favour of women which is a deviation from the vision of the Quaid (Jinnah). Last year, the Punjab government passed a women protection bill but the religious parties did not accept it,” he added.
Hundreds of women are killed every year in Pakistan often by their family members on the pretext of defending what is seen as family honour.
Pakistan’s National Assembly in October last year passed a much-anticipated new law that mandates a minimum 25-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of carrying out an honour killing, and prohibits families of victims from forgiving the killer, a common occurrence in these tragic crimes.
At least 40 clerics of the Barelvi school of thought in Pakistan on June 12 last year issued a fatwa against honour killing, declaring it ‘un-Islamic and unpardonable sin’.
The clerics under the banner of Sunni Itehad Council said that honour killing is kufr (infidelity).
The Conservative Council of Islamic Ideology – an Islamic body that enjoys constitutional status and gives non-binding proposals to Parliament to make laws according to Islam – last year declared killing of women in the name of “honour” as un-Islamic.