Pakistani parliament passes bills to curb honour killings, rape

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Pakistani parliament in a joint sitting of both the houses unanimously passed two bills to curb the heinous crimes of honour killing and rape. The bills are also meant to removal and solution to the existing lacunas in the prevailing pertaining laws on ‘honour’ killings and rape.

The criminal law amendment (offences in the name or on the pretext of honour) bill, 2016, moved by PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar, imposes a mandatory life sentence on the culprit. The statement of the objectives and reasons states that honour killings are common throughout Pakistan, claiming the lives of hundreds of victims every year.

According to statistics shared by Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) 432 women were reportedly killed in the name of honour in Pakistan in 2012,705 in 2011, 557 in 2010, 604 in 2009 and 475 in 2008.

These figures do not include unreported cases or, indeed, the number of men who are often killed alongside women in the name of honour. Addressing the loopholes and lacunae in the existing laws is essential in order to prevent these crimes from being repeatedly committed. The Bill is designed to achieve the said objective.

The house, over a two-hour debate on the ‘Anti-honour killing’ bill, witnessed a division among the lawmakers on different clauses of the long-awaited bill. Law Minister Zahid Hamid, before the passage of the bill, remarked that the main purpose of the bill was to put to end honour killings.

 “Under the new law relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon a killer if he/she is awarded capital punishment.

However, the culprit would still face a mandatory life sentence,” he remarked, quickly concluding the debate, as the House remained in session for over seven hours. It says addressing the loopholes and lacunae in the existing laws is essential to prevent these crimes from being repeatedly committed.

The house passed ‘anti-rape (criminal laws amendment) bill, also presented by Senator Farhatullah Babar, without indulging in any debate on it.

The statement of the objectives and reasons states that rape is a heinous crime and violence that ruins the lives of victims. In Pakistan, rape cases are reported and registered, however, the conviction rates of the accused are abysmally low according to reply to Senate Starred Question No.62, asked in the House in December 2013, in the last five years for instance, of the 103 reported rape cases registered in the Islamabad Capital Territory none of the culprits or accused have been convicted or brought to Justice.

 This prevents the law from being a necessary deterrent against this criminal offence. This bill aims to address lacunas in the existing laws in order to improve conviction rates, and bring the culprits within the ambit of the law. Pakistan Penal and Criminal Codes and other existing laws must be strengthened in order to achieve the following objectives: The Law is implemented in letter and spirit, that the victims of this heinous crime are provided justice and that the criminals responsible for this offence are clearly convicted.

Melange Report