Pakistan approves strict punishments for "honour" killing, rape

The Pakistan parliament on Thursday approved a new law to curb the killing of women by relatives on the pretext of saving saving family honour, a practice on the rise recently. 

More than 1,000 women were killed in Pakistan in 2015 by their fathers, brothers and sons in the name of so-called honour, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The killers in most cases go unpunished because of a controversial Islamic clause in laws that allows a victim's relatives to pardon the perpetrator, rights body Amnesty International said.  

The new legislation has only partially done away with the clause by proposing the murderer would still have to face a life term in case of the death penalty and pardon by the relatives.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised to enact strict laws to curb "honour killing" after a movie by a Pakistani director on the subject won an Oscar for the category of short documentary.

The debate in Pakistan on the practice intensified after the killing of social media star Qandeel Baloch by her brother in July this year.

Senator Farhatullah Babar, an opposition lawmaker who moved the bill, hoped that stricter punishments would act as deterrence against the barbaric practice.

"Hopefully it will achieve the purpose for which we have enacted it," Babar said before the parliament approved it.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid said the law would go a long way towards female emancipation in Pakistan.

The parliament also approved another law, raising the punishment for the crime of rape to 25 years.

The death penalty will be the punishment in the case of rape of minors and physically challenged people, the new law said.

The draft legislation also proposed considering DNA as evidence in rape cases, something that has not been happening in Pakistan so far due to opposition from hardline Islamist groups.

Last update: Fri, 07/10/2016 - 07:07
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