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22 February 2020

Honor killing - A silent death

Saira Begum
The writer is a social worker and a yoga expert.


It was a dark gray evening, when I heard firing from a nearby place. I enquired my mother over the unusual happening; however, she consoled me as mothers usually do. In jiffy, I got the news of murder of a woman, a mother when she was busy with her kids and was killed by none other than but a close relative of her. This casted heavy shadow and left me in deep agony to ablaze for days. In forthcoming days, different rumors were in the air. One of pretexts was that the woman was slain since she had illicit relationship with another man which is a grave sin culturally and Islamic perspective.

The woman was killed in the wake of unjustified matter but what was the fate of the man with whom she was implicated? Of course, he got impunity descended by culture. Why woman is virtually accused and executed for everything? What a paradox? Why our society has double standards? The dual positioning has weakened status of women in society. Woman’s voice is unheard and this killing is proudly narrated as honor killing. What kind of honor is gained by shedding blood? Nevertheless, I was expecting justice for the executed soul by bringing the culprit to book but with no surprise, neither police registered the case nor any voice from the woman’s family raised against the ruthless killing. Even the perpetrator of the crime has been given safe exit and the whole community remained silent.

This is one of the sagas of killing woman in the name of so called honor. Many girls and women are engulfed by this monster in Gilgit every year but there is no record of their killing.  The role of police seems lethargic or indifferent and human rights institutes are mute and merely look for issues which have been underscored through media.

As per report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, plight of women in Baltistan is much better than Gilgit, where women are somehow free to have control on their lives. In Gilgit, particularly Diamer is linked with honor killing, even a woman is denied to medical treatment because of violation of purdah system.

Speaking of legal response, law has bestowed rights to all so in this connection laws against honor killing, rape and abduction are exist but access to law, prolonging ways of justice system, the vague status and backwardness of Gilgit Baltistan are barriers to implement laws in true letter and spirit. Generally, people are unaware of existence of such laws, if laws are legislated in federal capital their far reaching consequences hardly reach to the remote and backward areas this makes social response weak. Burying our heads in the sand or blowing off the facts is not going to put forward any solution. Civil society needs to straighten up against this menace to show a tremendous change against the silent death. Simultaneously, advocacy campaigns are inevitable to disseminate awareness about pro-women laws.