Stopping the “Honor Killings”

Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP
Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP

When 25 year-old Qundeel Baloch was murdered by her brother, Muhammad Weseen, Pakistan and the world took notice.  Baloch is one of 297 victims of “honor killings” this year alone according to the country’s Human Rights Commission.  She was a popular social media star who incurred the wrath of her brother by her free spirit.  Her brother’s response:  “Girls are born to stay home.”  In his opinion, she brought dishonor to her family.

Honor killings have been going on for a long time, and often under international radar.  According to the Honor Based Violence Awareness Network, there have been 5,000 honor killings internationally per year with 1,000 in Pakistan and 1,000 in India.  The explanation for this horrific crime is simple – the need for power.  MADRE, an organization that works to “advance women’s rights by meeting immediate needs and building lasting solutions for communities in crisis,” states the rationale for these murders:  “The purpose of honor killings is to maintain men’s power by denying women’s basic rights to make autonomous decisions about marriage, divorce and sexuality.”

Signs of hope are finally surfacing in Pakistan.  An anti-honor killing bill is due to be presented in front of a joint session of Pakistan’s Senate and the National Assembly on August 9th.  The current law is essentially worthless because of loopholes that enable the perpetrator of the crime to go unpunished.  If the family of the perpetrator forgives him, he can escape prosecution.  If the proposed legislation passes, no perpetrators will be able to avoid prosecution, even if they are forgiven by family members.

Qundeel’s death serves as a catalyst for real change in holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes.  Even if Pakistan passes this law, more may be needed from the United States and other countries to insure that the law once enacted is followed.  Financial aid and trade may need to be withheld until there is documentation proving that the law is being upheld.  Women’s lives hang in the balance.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

2 responses to “Stopping the “Honor Killings”

  1. I agree with the capital punishment idea, and also that many are killed in spousal abuse, like in our country, and some Muslim people just use their religion to try to justify it.

  2. The word honor would have to be put in quotation marks. Honor killings are horrible and some have happened here in the United States.

    I couldn’t help but think that our capital punishment could be looked at as “honor” killing. We sometimes act as if this type of killing is for honorable reasons.

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