by imran khan laghari
Published on: Feb 17, 2008
Type: Opinions

Honor Killing: honor killing is a very old cultural practice of Pakistan in which male kill women relatives in the name of family honor. Thousands of Pakistani women and girls are killed every year by husbands, fathers or brothers who believe that they have brought them dishonor by being unfaithful, seeking a divorce, eloping with a boyfriend, refusing to marry a man chosen by them or simply just talking to a man. A woman can even bring dishonor to her family by the merest gossip of immodesty. For the reason that honor killings have been encouraged in the society of Pakistan for such a long period of time, this crime has never been seriously concentrated on.

On the other hand, due to the horrific nature of the crime, and international pressures for human concern, attention is now being given to this extremely thorny cultural, social, and political issue. Due to factors such as cultural relativism, state indifference, and a patriarchal society which compiles, promotes and enforces women’s oppression, Pakistani women continue to be in segregation and in fear for their lives in light of the threat of honor killing.

Honor killing as a custom: Honor killing, unquestionably one of the worst and most savage facets of human rights violations, has existed throughout history and was intrinsically linked to patriarchy, male domination, misogyny and female suppression. Honor killing emerged in the pre-Islamic period, and is a complicated matter cutting deep into the past of Arab society. Though the notion of honor killing predates Islam, it is not sanctioned by Islam. Honor killing commonly connected to Islam because of its link with enforcement of morality and upholding the patriarchal composition. The practice branches from a cultural view of family honor as being grounded in women’s obedience of customary norms, and also in maintaining their chastity.

Honor killing is backed by a allegedly ethical reasoning, that is, if a woman acts in a way that is deemed improper, the patriarchal culture often excuses and even justifies the perpetrator‘s act of killing her, to reclaim his own honor and regain control over his family. Since a consequence, the practice of this violent culture is difficult to restrain because the offenders are vindicated for killing women who are perceived as bringing dishonor to their families. In real meaning, honor killing violate the right to life upheld in basic law and openly discriminate against women.

Honor killing and Islam: Honor killing has often been connected with the rigid religious doctrines of Islam. Number of people believes that the Quran plainly promotes gender disparity. Like an outcome some Muslims consider that the Quran justifies honor killing. Without a doubt, the practice of honor killing has nothing to do with Islam or the Quran. It is not state in the Quran that honor killing is right or that it is a means of chastisement prescribed by God. Perpetrators, who conduct honor killing in the name of religion, do so as a consequence of their narrow understanding of religion. Such perpetrators have actually established their own rules and traditions. On the other hand, they are unsuccessful to recognize and adhere to the verses of the Quran, which clearly establish equal rights to both men and women. While conducting such crime, they ignore teachings which actually enhance the status of women. Although the severe circumstances and an unambiguous hatred of honor killing by Islam, some customs followed at present were made by men and not instituted by God. Consequently societies exist where the position of women is not in accordance with Islam, causing women to feel humiliated and left out of modern life.

Honor killing must not be puzzled with adultery for which, there are rules for justice and severe punishment if one is guilty. Merely the religious court may decide this, and in addition, there must be four adult eye witnesses willing to testify that an illicit sexual act took place. These circumstances work in the favor of the perpetrator, as they require extreme evidence of guilt. Another condition, which is often overlooked, is the reality that Islamic law clearly stresses the equal punishment for both men and women. In view of the fact that government of Pakistan intends to conduct itself under the Islamic law and since adultery is seen as one of the prime causes for the issuing of an honor killing. It is apparent that honor killing in the areas of adultery is contrary to Islamic law, and there should be a downward trend of this crime. Although the hard temperament in proving a case, and the stern consequences, honor killings for crimes of adultery and fornication are increasing.

Women provided equal rights in Islam, yet culture takes them away. Women in the Pakistani culture are discriminated on the name of honor. As Pakistan is an Islamic state where relationships between the sexes are hypothetical to be ruled by Islamic standards, Islam can be used to censure most acts of violence committed against women in the name of honor. The movement censuring violence against women in the name of honor killing that appeal to religious sentiment can have a huge impact on the masses that are easily mobilized by religion. Islam can and must be used to dismiss the justifications for forms of violence, such as honor killings that are generally analyzed as having Islamic legalization.

Religion is a primitive aspect when arguing whether honor killings are due to religion or cultural individuality. A key concern here is about the notion of cultural relativity. Number of men who commit honor killings erroneously give good reason for their actions on the source of their understanding of Islam, but it has also been proven that the practice of honor killings has a great deal to do with tradition and culture.

« return.