ISLAMABAD: The joint session of parliament on Thursday passed a long-awaited legislation Thursday closing a loophole that allowed people who killed for “honour” to walk free.
The legislation, passed unanimously by the National Assembly, mandates life imprisonment even if the victim’s relatives forgive the murderer.
The assembly 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.
Women have long fought for their rights in Pakistan, and so-called “honour” killings claim the lives of hundreds each year.
A 2005 amendment to the law pertaining to honour killings prevented men who kill female relatives pardoning themselves as an “heir” of the victim.
But punishment was left to a judge’s discretion when other relatives of the victim forgive the killer — a loophole which critics say had been exploited.
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 told AFP.
‘A Girl in the River’
Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won an Oscar earlier this year for a documentary on honour killings that was hailed by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who promised to push through the legislation in February.
PM Congratulates Nation
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif later congratulated the Parliament and entire nation on the passage of anti honour killing legislation.
“I congratulate the Parliament, the NGOs, civil society, academia, media and all those who worked hard and supported us in the passage of this legislation”, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister said that honour killing was one of the most critical problems that Pakistan was facing and the government was determined to adopt all possible ways to remove this stain from our society. We have succeeded in our efforts today; there is no honour in honour killing, the Prime Minister stated.
We will make it sure to fully enforce this legislation across the country as we did during its passage from the Parliament; women are the most essential part of our society and I believe in their empowerment, protection and emancipation so that they can equally contribute towards development and prosperity of our country, the Prime Minister reiterated.
I urge the entire nation particularly enlightened and progressive voices in the country to support us in successful enforcement of the legislation, the Prime Minister concluded.