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Safeguarding Women of Pakistan

Amidst heavy clouds of war hysteria and India-Pakistan braggadocio after Uri attack and purported surgical strikes, Pakistani parliament has passed a landmark, highly awaited and commendable bill of toughening laws related to rape and surging honor killing.

The bill, passed in a joint sitting of both houses, came after Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and countless other women’s efforts who campaigned to save women of our country from honour killings.

Such killings claimed the lives of over 1,000 women in Pakistan in 2015, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

Activists say some of these cases also go unreported with the consent of the society and the family.

Victims of honor killings are usually women who disobey their families in matters of love and marriage, with the perpetrators claiming to uphold customs and societal norms.

Provisions in Pakistani law allow a victim’s family to forgive the perpetrator of a crime, which were regularly exploited in cases of honor killing, where a close relative of the victim is usually the killer, activists say, and the family is often pressured into forgiving him.

honour-killing

This loophole has been closed permanently. Now the legislation mandates a 25 years imprisonement , even if the victim’s family forgives the perpetrator.

DNA test compulsion in rape cases being added for the first time. The verdict in rape cases is to be given within three months, with the right to appeal in six months.

Ms. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won an academy award in February for a documentary revolving around the plight of women in Pakistan especially the honor killing demon, also had a meeting with Nawaz Shahrif where she convinced him to tighten the anti honor killing law. After the legislation has passed, Ms. Chinoy believes it’s ‘a win for women of Pakistan.’

Former PPP Senator Sughra Imam, who had initially tabled both bills, said: “No law will eradicate a crime entirely but the law should be a deterrent. Laws are supposed to guide better behaviour, not allow destructive behaviour to continue with impunity.”

Now that we’ve passed this bill, the real challenge awaits us. The implementation of this law will be the testing point of our state prosecutors and judges. Also how much role police plays in order to dump the lodged case of rape and honor killing. Historically, police has always helped the perpetrator to free from the charge by threatening the victim’s family.

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