Pakistan Honor Killings Underscore Muslim Women’s Plight

December 21, 2011  

At least 675 Pakistani women and girls were murdered during the first nine months of 2011 for allegedly defaming their family’s honor, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan report said Tuesday.

“A total of 675 women and girls were killed in the name of honor across Pakistan from January to September,” a senior official with the commission told the AFP. “They included at least 71 victims under the age of 18.”

“According to the report around 450 of the women killed from January to September were accused of having ‘illicit relations’ and 129 of marrying without permission,” the official explained.

“Some victims were raped or gang raped before being killed, he said. At least 19 were killed by their sons, 49 by their fathers and 169 by their husbands,” he added.

The report underscores the pervasive violence against women in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where there are no domestic violence laws and authorities faced with ‘honor killings’ prefer to leave such matters in the hands of local elders.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is unauthorized to speak to the media, said figures were still being compiled from October to December, and that a full report would be released in February.

The Commission reported 791 honor killings in 2010 and there was no discernible decrease this year, the official added.

Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch, told AFP that the state’s inability to enforce rule of law, leaving matters in the hands of tribesmen and local elders, was a major factor.

The phenomena of ‘honor killings’ persists in much of the Islamic world, where women are often viewed as their husband’s chattel and have fewer civil liberties than their male counterparts.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 5,000 women in Muslim countries are slain each year in ‘honor killings.’

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