Honour killing: We need to think where we went wrong

“Those who wandered insane through the streets, those who flee from the luxurious places in quest for their love… thief, brute – all women.” The lines are taken out from the novel ‘The Poison of Love” by KR Meera. Revenge, love, tragedy and salvation are the words that take on our neurons when think of such novels, greatly inspired from real events and episodes.

From the medieval era through the relatively recent past, women have been burnt to death on suspicion of being a witch. In the modern era, they continue to be brutally murdered in many parts of the world — only this time their “crime” is “dishonouring” their families and corrupting society. This evil practice of killing a woman who asserts her right to take decisions on her choice to marry, divorce or befriend a man is not limited to feudal societies and cases have been found in almost every region of the globe. The killer is usually the brother or another male relative of the victim, but distressingly mothers have also been known to kill their daughters to vindicate so-called family honour.

A 20-year-old Pakistani woman and a man she was having an affair with were on July 21 hacked to death allegedly by her father and brother in Karachi city, in a latest case of honour killing in the country.

The couple was brutally killed by the woman’s father and brother with meat cleavers after the family invited the 22-year-old man to their house in Nazimabad area. The one aforementioned is addition of the latest insult to the injury. The list might propel to infinity.

The latest episode of honour killing in the country has raised certain points to ponder about. Despite the fact that the laws have been remodeled by a joint session of the parliament last year in October had unanimously approved anti-honour killing and anti-rape bills yet the menace never gets eclipsed owing to our sense of unsensed senses, owing to lack of education, owing greatly to less exposure to the sheen of modern day trends and requirements, owing to what we have been doing impulsively rather than to be doing anything out of rationality.

Irony of ironies is that ‘honour killing’ is growing as we are advancing towards having close proximity with the comity of nations. The more alarming fact is that these killings are taking place in metropolitan cities. Had latest installment been in some remote area of the country the scenario might have been something else but since it has been in Karachi, every segment of the country ought to pay heed to it.

Our society is divided into too many sections, the reason why the society has not had any ubiquitous rule to live under. We have Jirga system, we have Panchayat system, we have FCR, we have feudalism, we have Malaks, we have Sharia system and yes we have Lord Mecauly’s system of justice and these systems are functioning parallel to each other without bothering to affect the other systems and sadistically speaking every system barely vexes the others.

Problem with too many systems functioning simultaneously is that it does not ensure the process of redemption or it does not give a way to present the suit.

In Pakistan, the law does not prohibit any woman from marrying a man of her choice, but the country’s courts have traditionally adjudicated each case according to the moral value of the presiding judge. Love marriages have been described as “runaway marriages” and the woman humiliated by dubbing her a “wayward” person who polluted the social and cultural norms of society. In 1995, a controversial ruling of Lahore High Court held that even adult women required the authorisation of their legal guardians (walis) to contract a valid marriage. After a few landmark cases — where women’s rights organisations actively pursued convictions — Pakistan’s Supreme Court in 2003 reckoned that an adult woman did not demand her guardian’s consent to marry and an admission by the couple is an adequate proof of marriage.

The problem before our generation is not about how the ‘killing’ takes place or why the law always failed to foil such killings but the question is why and where we have been wrong be in this filth today. Every segment bears responsibility for all these troubles and tribulations. And every segment needs a complete overhaul.

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