«By Maliha Zia Lari Published under Legislative Watch Programme for Women’s Empowerment Aurat Foundation About the Author The author is a High Court ...»
A Pilot Study on:
‘Honour Killings’ in Pakistan
and Compliance of Law
Maliha Zia Lari
Legislative Watch Programme for
About the Author
The author is a High Court Advocate with an LLM in Human Rights from
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She has
been working on women's human rights, specifically women's legal rights for
the last 8 years. She has worked with several NGOs and international organisations providing gender analysis of Pakistani law, drafting of laws and as a trainer. Her work has included several reports, articles and trainings given on issue of international human rights treaties, including CEDAW and discrimination against women in law and the judiciary. Currently she is practising law in the Sindh High Court at Karachi and continuing her work as a free lance gender and legal consultant.
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Preferences to this report and excerpts of the report can be reproduced with due acknowledge of the publication and Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation (AF).
Published by: Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation Title painting by: Aliya Mirza Title technical design by: Black Box Sounds Layout design by: Shahzad Ashraf Printing by: Crystal Printers Date of publication: November, 2011 Table of Contents Preface 1 Introduction 5
1. The Status of Women in Pakistan 9
2. The Zia Effect of Systematic Discrimination against Women 11 3. “Honour Killings”: their Prevalence and Understanding the Rationale 17 4. “Honour Killings” and its Relationship with Law 25 “Honour Killings” and Pakistani Law 27 The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2004 31
5. Implementation of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2004 37
5.1. Registered Cases of “Honour Killings” 37 Methodology 38 Limitations and Problems Faced 39 Findings of the Research 42 Analysis of the FIRs 48
5.2. Reported Cases of “Honour Killings” 50
7. Conclusion and Main Findings 73
8. Recommendations 83 Glossary Karo-kari: Sindhi term literally meaning black i.e. disreputable man disreputable woman (who have brought disgrace to the family or clan), a ’crime’ that allows culturally condoned killing in the name of honour of a man or woman charged with an illicit relationship. In Balochistan the term used is siyah kari.
Ghairat: Loosely translated as honour but also refers to a chivalrous adherence to tradition.
Jirga: An assembly of male elders, usually tribal, who make decisions regarding social issues; an informal body for resolving disputes. The term is Pushto but the practice exists across Pakistan. Decisions taken by them are known to be antiwomen.
Panchayat: An assembly of elders of the community, always males, who are called upon to resolve disputes.
Qisas and Diyat Ordinance: Law promulgated by the Ziaul Haq regime as Sharia law that allows compoundability of crimes including murder.
Purdah: Veiling Na-mehram: All men excepting blood relatives.
Izzat: Respect Zan, Zar, Zamin: Women, gold, land – commonly considered motives for committing crimes.
Tazir: Sentence of imprisonment or death under normal law.
Masoom ud dam: One whose life is sacred or protected.
Quwwam: Superior; men are quwwam over women as interpreted in the Quran.
Qatl-e-amd: Intentional murder Wali: ‘Protector’ or ‘guardian’ of women in the family, the head of the family, patriarch.
Zina: Sexual relationship outside marriage Fasad-fil-ard: Chaos/disorder on earth or society Badl-e-sulah: Giving something (often women and girls) as compensation for a crime.
Arsh: Compensation for hurt Preface Elimination of all negative and harmful customary practices, including killings in the name of so-called honour, has been part of Aurat Foundation’s mission since its inception. While a woman’s empowerment means her complete independence in making choices by her free will, it becomes reality only through her total emancipation from patriarchal hold. Customs and traditions, the gatekeepers of patriarchy, become more violent and brutal in tribal and feudal societies where all-male informal mechanisms of dispute resolution are still intact. Therefore, throughout history, the most widespread crimes against women in all regions of the world have been committed in the name of customs. What a selfexplanatory foot-note of his-story! Even in present times, e.g. the crimes against women like female infanticide, female genital mutilation and killings in the name of ‘family honour’ result in ‘unimaginably huge and shameful’ loss of women’s body and soul in several regions of the world.
In Pakistan, ‘honour’ killings are prevalent throughout the country, though in some areas the incidents of ‘honour’ killings have taken an alarmingly high proportion of incidents in recent years. According to Aurat Foundation’s statistics, collected for its annual reports on violence against women, a total of 557 women were killed in the name of ‘honour’ in Pakistan in 2010, whereas 604 women were killed in 2009, and 475 women were killed in 2008. Parallel quasi judicial systems like jirgas and panchayats continue to issue verdicts declaring women and men guilty of ‘karo-kari’ and ‘siah-kari’ punishable through arbitrary killing, by anyone, by any means. Statistics have shown that usually women are killed after being declared ‘kari’ and men are often able or made to escape from the scene of killing. These crimes have brought our country in disrepute and there is evidence that our failure to contain and address 1 this issue has resulted in a spill over of ‘hounor’ killings to a number of foreign countries primarily through Pakistani immigrant communities.
In 2004, when after persistent efforts of women’s rights organizations and committed activists, along with active women in political parties, some legal amendments were made to Pakistan Penal Code to address the issue of ‘honour’ crimes through an act of Parliament, it turned out to be a ‘victory’ more shrouded in disappointment than joy. Besides jubilant official claims of making headway in resolving the issue, the response of civil society organizations was straightforward: “the law has no teeth – it will be ineffective”. Since, Shahla Zia from Aurat Foundation was the prime architect of the legislative bill which was handed over to the federal women’s ministry for legislative action, and she along with some senior members of the Legislative Watch Group in Islamabad, Tahira Abdullah, Sabira Qureshi, Nasreen Azhar and myself were participants to the negotiations with the ministry in 2004, it became clear, as well as painful for us to know that despite our protest and reservations, the original bill prepared by Shahla Zia was being severely ‘mutilated’ with the final outcome that its most vital clauses were dropped when it was passed by the National Assembly.
The bill was passed in December 2004, and became a law in January
2005. However, as the above-quoted statistics indicate, there was no letup in the incidents of ‘honour’ killings during the following years. Since, we were aware of the presence of serious loopholes in the law, it did not come as a surprise. But, there could have been other factors, e.g. what does our case law say about ‘honour’ killings’; how were the law or the relevant provisions in the PPC received by the police, judiciary and legal community and; what were community perceptions towards the offence and any legal remedy to it. These were broad questions. Therefore, it was felt that a pilot study was required to analyze ground situation to ascertain the level of understanding on the new law by different stakeholders and 2 the nature and extent of its compliance. The scope of the study was kept narrow so as to have some initial understanding of the problem and its related dimensions.
This pilot study was conducted by Maliha Zia Lari, who is a practicing lawyer and researcher on human rights and international instruments with a strong passion and commitment to women’s rights and their empowerment. She conducted the study with the assistance of local researchers in the four selected districts, Sheikh Abdul Razzaque (Naseerbad), Irfan A. Durrani (Nowshera), Naveed Malik (Ghotki) and Mumtaz Mughal (Gujrat). Saima Munir, Rubina Brohi and Haroon Dawood from Aurat Foundation’s offices also helped her in conduct of the study.
Maliha has elaborated limitations and challenges faced during the conduct of the study in the next pages, which include difficulties in accessing information from concerned departments to ‘culture of silence’ among local communities to speak about or report these crimes. Nevertheless, the findings of the study, summed up in the last chapter, are startling, for instance, “There is little awareness of the 2004 law on honour killings.
The community at large either does not know of it, or does not know the specifics of the law. But what is far worse is that this ignorance also exists within the fundamental players of the justice sector, including the police, lawyers and even judges.”, and “The police is often unwilling to implement the law due to the overwhelming social acceptance of the act and the influence of power holders. Often they are reluctant to take the case forward, as mostly the cases are compromised out of court. The police often try to bring about this negotiation themselves, as they feel that it is for the benefit of both parties to avoid the hassle of a court case and settle the matter before taking it to court.” 3 The findings draw attention of law-makers to reform law concerning these crimes as it is proved to be ineffective and counter-productive; and it is earnestly expected that the leaders and officials sitting at the helm of affairs in legislatures, governments, law-enforcement agencies, as well as, those who hold authority in courtrooms, will see wisdom in several landmark judgments pronounced by the Supreme Court prohibiting ‘honour killings’ and in addition listen to the last cries for help and justice of those who were killed simply because their only ‘crime’ was that they were women.
We hope that this report would pave way for further in-depth research, may be on a wider scale, to vindicate its findings with more evidence as has been suggested by the author. In the end, I would like to thank all those who gave input to the report in providing information and opinion on the issue. I would also like to express Aurat Foundation’s gratitude to the Norwegian development assistance which made it possible to conduct this study.
Naeem Mirza Chief Operating Officer Aurat Foundation Islamabad, 25 November, 2011 4 Introduction The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2004, otherwise known as the ‘Honour Killings Act’, was promulgated after the murders of thousands of innocent women and girls and years of demands and struggle from different segments of society for a legislation to provide protection to citizens, especially women and girls; to make illegal and criminalize all murders committed under the name of ‘honour’; and to punish the perpetrators, aiders, abettors and supporters of these crimes.
The 2004 Act amended the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to define karo kari (honour killings) as murder with penal punishments. It has been held up by the government as a show of their commitment to eliminate honour killings and violence against women.
However, the Act falls short of providing actual protection to survivors/victims and ensuring punishment for the perpetrators and supporters of this heinous crime. It has been severely criticized by civil society, including eminent legal scholars. The amendments mostly deal with the Qisas and Diyat provisions in the PPC, but have left some major lacunas, which have, in effect, rendered the law useless.
The problems lie not just in the law itself but in its implementation. With the implicit consent of society, the murderers are given protection and impunity from within the community, which extends to the police, courts and other implementing agents and agencies. Apart from the inherent biases within these bodies, problems also lie with the methods of investigations, lack of up-dated machinery and tools etc.
With the Government holding up the 2004 Act as a success story of Pakistan, it is essential that this ‘success’ should be measured and its 5 shortcomings and failures also be recognised and accepted. Hundreds of women continue to be killed every year across Pakistan with the murderers and perpetrators going scot free. Civil society, including media, legal, NGO personnel and even Islamic jurists have all spoken out against honour crimes and have advocated for a strong stance against it.
With the law in place, this issue should have decreased drastically.
Nevertheless, the problem continues to exist.
It now becomes necessary to go beyond merely identifying the gaps in the law and to move on to identifying different strategies to push the Government and government agencies to conduct proper investigations into such cases and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.
This report aims to take a closer look at the actual implementation of the ‘Honour Killing Act’. It focuses on not just the numbers of honour killings quoted in the media, but to examine the actual effect on the ground. Taking a sample study from across the nation, it examines how many cases of honour killings actually get registered; what are the reactions of the offenders to the passing of a law specifically dealing with their crime; the language used by the police; a case analysis of judgments given on honour killings to evidence whether any social change has been created within the judiciary itself. The report aims to see whether any actual change has happened in the 5 years since the law was passed.