Mamarha Afridi

BARA: A girl and a boy were killed in the name of honour in Karankhel area of Khyber tribal district recently and the girl’s family buried her without funeral for the fear of social stigma.

Many honour killings incidents happen in merged tribal districts, but these go unreported due to social factors and in some cases, the family members opt against funeral and bury the dead secretly due to which such incidents remain hidden from the media and social organisations.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 95 cases about honour killings were registered until this year, but it doesn’t possess statistics of merged tribal districts. As many as 11 people were killed for honour only in Khyber district last year, but it is widely believed that the actual number of such incidents is much higher. Many such incidents were not reported to police or the media.

Like other parts of the country, the ratio of women being killed for honour is higher as compared to men. According to Aurat Foundation, a non-governmental organisation working for rights of women, nine percent increase was witnessed in the honour killings of women in KP in 2019.

Women rights activist Dr Noreen Naseer said it is highly unfortunate that honour killings have ‘silent support’ in a tribal culture. She said the actual figure of honour killings of women is much more higher, but people brand such deaths as natural death due to fear of social stigma.

Under Pakistani laws, the punishment for honour killing is life imprisonment or death. Dr Noreen said cases of honour killing are not reported in tribal districts and the culprits roam freely there.

Syed Alam, a resident of Landikotal, said he had filed an application with the Human Rights Commission in 2016 that his wife and uncle were killed by his brothers in the name of honour, but the actual reason was a property dispute. He said the political administration did not help him against the culprits. He said case could not be filed against the accused even four years after the incident. The HRC Assistant Coordinator Sajid Muhammad said a lawyer was provided to Syed Alam for case in Fata tribunal and he had also won the case. He said the accused have now again approached the court for relief after Fata-KP merger, but the HRC has no resources to support Syed Alam any further.

Daud Afridi, a social activist, said all killings under the rules set by citizens on their own are illegal and inhuman act. He said women are the major victim of such customs. However, he said, it is not impossible to break these customs.

Sana Ijaz, founder member of Wak, a women’s rights organisation, said women in tribal societies are killed for honour even over an allegation. She said the honour killing is then termed a natural death or suicide and evidences are concealed. She pointed that according to an agreement, the journalists of merged districts don’t report honour killing incidents. A journalist in Khyber wishing anonymity confirmed that media persons cannot freely report honour killings. He said police also faces difficulties in handling such cases due to social pressure.