A joint sitting of Parliament also passed a bill boosting the punishments for some rape offences, mandating DNA testing and making the rape of a minor or the disabled punishable by life imprisonment or death.
The bills were moved by Law Minister Zahid Hamid and Senator Farhatullah Babar which were duly approved by the parliamentarians, in the joint session held today.
The amendments passed Thursday and published on the National Assembly website mandate judges to sentence someone who kills in the name of “honour” to life imprisonment, even if they have been forgiven, said senior opposition lawmaker Farhatullah Babar.
“Even if the close family members pardon the murderer, the court is bound to send him to jail for 25 years,” Babar said.
It said the identity of the victim must be kept secret and verdict be announced within 90 days.
The bill for the prevention of honour killings stated an honour killing convict would at least be handed life in prison.
In case of pardon by the heirs of an honor killing victim, the minimum punishment – life in prison – will remain in place and could not be reduced.
Law Minister Zahid Hamid, on the occasion, said the government will end the menace of honor killings from the country. He said a detailed consultation was held with parliamentarians from all the parties and a consensus was developed.
There have been numerous incidents of rapes and honour killings in Pakistan in the past, in most of which the victims were either forced to silence or in case of killings for ‘honour’ the accused was pardoned by other heirs of the victim.
“Laws are supposed to guide better behaviour, not allow destructive behaviour to continue with impunity,” said former senator Sughra Imam, who initially put forward the bill.
Some 500 women are killed each year in Pakistan at the hands of family members over perceived damage to “honour” that can involve eloping, fraternising with men or any other infraction against conservative values relating to women.
“These bills are hugely important for Pakistani women, where rape conviction rates were almost non-existent, due in large part to various technical obstacles to accessing justice,” said Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director at Equality Now.
“We hope that these new laws will help generate a cultural shift in Pakistani society and that women will be able to live their lives in safety,” Hassan said.
Earlier this year, a Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch was also allegedly murdered by her brother in one such incident of honour killing.
Her killing left many in shock and drew severe criticism of the authorities.
Qandeel’s killing followed another murder of a British-Pakistani wife, Samia Shahid, in Jhelum – again for the sake of ‘honour’.
The gruesome killing of the British-Pakistani woman renewed the calls for effective legislation to curb this practice.
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
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