There is no honour in murder


There is something fundamentally wrong with Pakistan’s patriarchal society’s obsession of honour being lodged inside female bodies. The fact that hundreds of women are murdered by their male relatives every year to preserve this very ‘honour’ and ‘dignity’ has not yet succeeded in changing this perception. Even more disheartening is the official apathy regarding the ever-increasing number of these barbaric episodes that continue to be unleashed on Pakistani women.
On Thursday, Khalida Bibi, a mother of three, and her alleged boyfriend were hanged from a tree in Mian Channu by the male members of her family. This latest episode took place only weeks after the local police had arrested the father and ex-husband of Samia Shahid, a British woman allegedly raped and then strangled to death. Although the actual figure is likely to be even higher, a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recorded more than a thousand cases of honour crimes in 2015. The data compiled by the Aurat Foundation also found over 724 women were murdered in Punjab alone, at the hands of their fathers, husbands and brothers, last year. This insistence on upholding the ‘ghairat’ by killing all who dare to defy social expectations are vehemently supported by regressive patriarchies. Hence, these murderers are either never reported or pardoned in the few cases that do reach courts. Had the government been more serious in its oft-reiterated commitment to defend women, such underlying factors would have long been dealt with. Nevertheless, the future of Khalida’s murderers can be easily predicted in the light of innumerable previous occurrences. Although Pakistan has removed the forgiveness loophole in the anti-honour killing law, other members of her family would most likely pardon all her killers. It is regrettable though that the country has still not made any notable advances in truly owning its women. An effective implementation of relevant pro-women legislations could have well protected these vulnerable segments against the brutalities of so-called ‘defenders’ of false notions of ‘honour’. This is not the case in Pakistan, however, where misogynistic practices continue to reign the land. The long-term remedy would take a great deal of work, and that starts at home. Women, unfortunately, play a huge role in perpetuating the narrative of ‘women-are-inferior’ and women must protect the ‘honour’ of the male members of the family. Mothers, primarily, instil values in their sons, and these sons are the future brothers, husbands and partners who either treat women as their equal, or as inferior, disposable beings.