Honour killings in Pakistan are known as Karo-Kari and Pakistan has the highest number of estimated and documented honour killing in a year. An honour killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or community. The death of the victim is viewed as a way to restore the reputation and honour of the family.
The practice of honour killing has been in Pakistan for thousands of years now even though the government has introduced reforms to bring an end to the practice. Over 4,000 honour killing cases were reported in Pakistan between 1998 and 2004. Of the victims, almost 2,700 were women and just over 1,300 were men; and 3,451 cases came before the courts. During this time, the highest rates were in Punjab, followed by the Sindh province. Nilofar Bakhtiar, stated that in 2003, as many as 1,261 women were murdered in honour killings.
Not many cases of honour cases are reported because in most cases the perpetrators think that they are bringing justice to their name and they do not realize the horrendous nature of the crime that they are committing. Human Right Advocates in Pakistan also believe that most cases which are reported do not contain the whole story due to the fact that honour killings have a high level of support in Pakistan’s rural society and even in the minds of some people from the urban society.
The law on honor killings has been reformed several times throughout the years. Notable legislation reforms to protect women in Pakistan from violence include The Protection of Women Act of 2006, the Criminal Law Act of 2011, The Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act of 2016, and The Criminal Law (Offences in the name or pretext of Honour) Act of 2016. On December 8, 2004, under international and domestic pressure, Pakistan enacted a law that made honour killings punishable by a prison term of seven years, or by the death penalty in the most extreme cases.
The Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act of 2016 was passed to amend Pakistani law to further protect women. But even with the passing of all these laws, Pakistani Women Activists are afraid about the implementation of these rules.
Awareness should be created to educate the people about how horrendous of a crime, honour killings are so that the mindset of the people changes and Pakistani women can live their life freely.