Ms. Norani, a 16 years old resident of Khomar Gilgit, committed suicide in the morning of 22nd October 2015. Police recorded the statement of
her mother and declared it a case of suicide and closed the file after entering the case in daily diary of Jutial police station. The neighbors and some social and political activists were suspicious that the case was not a suicide rather an honor killing. They informed to some human rights organizations in Gilgit about the case. Civil society intervened into the matter and contacted to the police high ups and Chief Mister’s office in Gilgit and demanded to carry out an inquiry into the matter. After the inquiry police arrested the culprit on the basis of postmortem report and statements of relatives of victim those were recorded under Section 174 in The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Later on the mother of culprit as a legal heir of victim forgave the offence of culprit according to the provisions of Diayat law, hence the offender was released.
According to the figures of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Gilgit office the ratio of crime in the name of honor has increased to the alarming level for last many years. The average monthly reports of crime in the name of honor received from across the GB by HRCP office Gilgit are 05. According to month wise comparative chart of 2015 the figure of received reports of crime in the name of honor was 06 in January, 06 in February, 03 in March, 04 in April, 03 in May, 07 in June, 04 in July, 09 in August, 09 in September, 03 in October and 06 in November and total number of reports received from January to November 2015 by HRCP office Gilgit is 60.
From January to November 2015, 44 persons have been killed in the name of honor in Gilgit Baltistan, majority of them were female, 05 were killed in January, 04 in February, 02 in March, 4 in April, 2 in May, 4 in June, 3 in July , 09 in August, 5 in September 02 in October and 04 in November.
In such cases women are special target of male members of their family or community and tribe. In the cases of crime in the name of honor women or men are killed, harassed or beaten severely. The average figure of honor killing as per month is 04 in GB.
The main causes of crime in the name of honor are so-called illicit relationship between male and female, love affairs, love marriages, sexual affairs, cross sect love marriages, refusal for force marriages, distrust on the character of female by male members of family, refusal by female to obey the restriction on outdoor activities e.g. job, education, shopping and visit to offices, relatives and friends etc.
In last three months two newly married couples were killed in Ghizer because they had love marriages, such targeted killing also occurs in other districts of GB but the honor killing’s ratio is very high in Diamer district of GB. No any month is spared in which a case of honor killing is not reported from Diamer.
According to research study carried out by Mr. Aziz Ahmed and Mr. Sultan Rahim Bercha the two independent researchers on the increasing ratio of female suicide cases in District Ghizer in 2004, that 60 percent cases of suicide were actually the cases of honor killing that were disguised as cases of suicides after committing the murder. The study was conducted on 64 cases of suicide that were reported from 2000 to 2004.
The alarming situation is that the family and community and even the police supports the culprits of honor crime. Police don’t bother to conduct an inquiry or postmortem if a case is declared suicide by the victim’s family members. Often the culprits of honor killing use the political or religious influence to pressurize the police to desist them from conducting inquiry and postmortem in the cases which are declared suicide after the murder. In some cases if the culprit surrenders in front of police and confesses the offence, he is later on released by court because of pardon by the heirs of victim or complainants, especially on behalf of mother or father under the Diyat Law. Unfortunately no any family member gets ready to become complainant in such cases if any one does so he latter on forgives the culprit by pretending that the culprit is only bread earner for his family so and so. Often heirs of victim become complainants of the case; therefore the culprits get the benefit of Diayat law. In some cases it is preplanned that the whole family designs a plan and gives responsibility to someone among them with the promise that he would be helped to escape from sentence by getting the benefit of Diayat law.
Pakistan introduced Qisas and Diyat Ordinance in 1990, amending sections 229 to 338 of Pakistan Penal code. The new Ordinance replaced British era criminal laws on bodily hurt and murder with sharia compliant provisions, as demanded by the Shariat Appellate Bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court. The Criminal Procedure Code was also amended to give legal heirs of a murdered person to enter into compromise and accept Diyya compensation, instead of demanding Qisas-based retaliatory penalties for murder or bodily hurt. The democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif, in 1997, replaced the Ordinance by enacting the Qisas and Diyat sharia provisions as the law, through an Act of its Parliament. The sharia-compliant Qisas and Diyat law made murder a private offense, not a crime against society or state, and thus the pursuit, prosecution and punishment for murder has become the responsibility of the victim’s heirs and guardians.
The Diyat law of Pakistan has proven to be controversial, for a number of reasons. First, a number of cases of honor killings of girls, initiated and arranged with intent by families, have been later forgiven by the same families under the Diyyat law. Second, scholars have cited a number of cases of intentional murder and bodily harm inflicted on the poor by the wealthy, where the guilty escaped legal process and simply paid compensation.
The above facts are the causes of escaping the culprits in the cases of honor killing. In other side the other crimes like harassment and physical violence in the name of honor are not considered the serious crimes.
It is high time to raise a demand by civil society of Gilgit Baltistan that Diyat law should be amended and the state should become complainant in the cases of murder especially in the cases of honor killing. The second demand should be that the inquiry must be conducted in every case of suicide until it is not proven with the evidence by police in front of magistrate that the case is actual suicide. The third demand should be that the family laws should be extended to the GB immediately and family courts should be established in GB with without any delay, So that the cases of domestic violence and divorce and other family matters should be dealt according to the law, Because in some cases husband harasses and commits violence against wife and refuses to divorce her when she desires for it.
The writer is a Gilgit Based freelance Journalist and Human Rights activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.