Honour killings in Pakistan are known locally as karo-kari (Urdu: کاروکاری). Pakistan currently has the top number of documented and estimated honour killings per capita of any country in the world; about 1/5 of the world's honour killings are committed in Pakistan (1,000 out of the 5,000 per year total). An honour killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or community. The death of the victim is viewed as a way to restore the reputation and honour of the family.
It is likely that honour killing has been a practice in Pakistan for many years, and, despite recent legal reforms, it remains a common practice in Pakistan today. Both international and Pakistani activists and activist groups are pushing for an end to the practice, although some say that change will not truly happen unless the general public chooses to condemn the practice.
A 1999 Amnesty International report drew specific attention to "the failure of the authorities to prevent these killings by investigating and punishing the perpetrators." According to women's rights advocates, the concepts of women as property and honour are so deeply entrenched in the social, political and economic fabric of Pakistan that the government, for the most part, ignores the daily occurrences of women being killed and maimed by their families. The fact that much of Pakistan's Tribal Areas are semi-autonomous and governed by often fundamentalist leaders makes federal enforcement difficult when attempted.
Both Appiah and Jafri explain the historical significance of karo-kari (Urdu: کاروکاری) within Pakistan. Karo can be directly translated as "black [or 'blackened'] man" and kari as "black [or 'blackened] woman" and refers to sexual intercourse outside the bonds of marriage. The term karo-kari is commonly used as a synonym to honour killing, especially in the Sindh region of Pakistan.
Pakistan is a collective, patriarchal society, and therefore social boundaries and community regard are based on honour; in this situation, honour is based on the behaviour of kin or members of a certain group. A Pakistani folk saying describes well the cultural importance of honour: "'Daulat khonay pur kuch naheen khota, sihat khonay pur kuch kho jaata hai, ghairat khonay pur sub kuch kho jaata hai' (When wealth is lost nothing is lost; when health is lost something is lost; when honour is lost everything is lost)." In Pakistan, honour is focused more on the perception of the community versus actual evidence. Honour is important for both women and men to uphold; women protect honour by modesty and men by masculinity. The cultural perspective behind honour is that if a woman does something that the community perceives as immodest then the men in her family must uphold their masculinity and regain the family honour by murdering the woman. If this action isn't completed the shame and dishonour can extend beyond the immediate family to the entire lineage, or even to the entire community. There are multiple other cultural characteristics that contribute to honour including a strong disdain for death. Due to this, the perpetrator of an honour killing is highly regarded in the community because of their courage and because what they had to endure through with murdering another was worse than death itself.
As in other countries, the exact number of honour killings is not known. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan lists 460 cases of reported honour killings in 2017, with 194 males and 376 females as victims. Of these murderings, 253 were sparked by disapproval of illicit relations and 73 by disapproval of marriage choice. Additionally, out of the known suspect relationship with victims, over 93% were family relationships. Although these are most likely only a sample of the actual honour killings that were completed during 2017, it still gives a glimpse into characteristics of honour killings in Pakistan. Sources disagree as to the exact number by year, but according to Human Rights Watch, NGOs/INGOs in the area estimate that around 1,000 honour killings are carried out each year in Pakistan.
In 2015 nearly 1,100 women were murdered in honour killings. In 2011, human rights groups reported 720 honour killings in Pakistan (605 women and 115 men), while Pakistan's Human Rights Commission reported that in 2010 there were 791 honour killings in the country, and Amnesty International cited 960 incidents of women who were slain in honour killings that year. Over 4,000 honour killing cases were reported in Pakistan between 1998 and 2004. Of the victims, around 2,700 were women vs about 1,300 men; 3,451 cases came before the courts. During this time, the highest rates were in Punjab, followed by the Sindh province. A significant number of cases have also been reported in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and in Balochistan. Nilofar Bakhtiar, advisor to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, stated that in 2003, as many as 1,261 women were murdered in honour killings.
Data and its absence are difficult to interpret. One reason is the reluctance to report honour killings to official bodies. Another reason is that honour killings are occurring in cultural and social contexts which do not recognize the criminality of honour killings. The very nature of honour killings reflects deeply entrenched notions of "honour" and "morality", in which the perpetrator is upholding justice and order when the victim commits deplorable social acts. The perpetrator becomes the champion of justice while the victim becomes the perpetrator and is accused of the criminal act. Human rights advocates are in wide agreement that the reported cases do not reflect the full extent of the issue, as honour killings have a high level of support in Pakistan's rural society, and thus often go unreported. Frequently, women & men murdered in honour killings are recorded as having committed suicide or died in accidents.
In one of the most publicized honour killing cases committed in Pakistan, Samia Sarwar was murdered by her family in the Lahore office of well-known human rights activists Asma Jahangir and Hina Jilani in April 1999. As Sarwar sought assistance for a divorce from her first cousin, her family arranged her murder after the shame felt in her attempt to marry a man of her choice. The police did not make any arrests or pursue prosecution as Sarwar's family is highly well known in elite, political circles. The 2000 award-winning BBC documentary, "License to Kill," covers Samia's murdering in Pakistan.
In July 2016, popular Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was strangled by her brother in an act of honour killing in Multan in the province of Punjab. She had reportedly raised controversy by posting controversial pictures of herself on social media, including one alongside a Muslim cleric, and her brothers had asked her to stop. The state was named as complainant in Qandeel's murder case, making it impossible for her family to pardon her killers. Qandeel's brother Waseem was arrested on the charges of murder. He confessed to murdering his sister, saying "she Qandeel Baloch was bringing disrepute to our family's honour and I could not tolerate it any further. I killed her around 11:30 p.m. on Friday night when everyone else had gone to bed."
In February 2018, a man and five accomplices opened fire on a couple in Karachi, Pakistan, killing the husband, Rozi Khan, and injuring the wife, Zainab. Zainab put up a fight and was further attacked with sticks and a knife, but still survived. The couple had entered into a marriage that most of their family was opposed to but that Zainab's mother and brother gave permission for. The main assailant in the honour killing and attempted honour killing is Zainab's nephew. The nephew was apprehended at a private hospital following the attack where he claimed his injuries from fighting Zainab were instead from being robbed. The nephew's friend is also a suspect in the case.
An Amnesty International report noted "the failure of the authorities to prevent these killings by investigating and punishing the perpetrators." Honour killings are supposed to be prosecuted as ordinary murder, but in practice, police and prosecutors often ignore it. The Pakistani government's failure to take effective measures to end the practice of honour killings is indicative of a weakening of political institutions, corruption, and economic decline. In the wake of civil crisis, people turn to other alternative models, such as traditional tribal customs. In 2016, Pakistan repealed the loophole which allowed the perpetrators of honour killings to avoid punishment by seeking forgiveness for the crime from another family member, and thus be legally pardoned.
On December 8, 2004, under international and domestic pressure, Pakistan enacted a law that increased punishment for honour killings to prison term of seven years, or by the death penalty in the most extreme cases. Women and human rights organizations were, however, skeptical of the law's impact, as it stopped short of outlawing the practice of allowing murderers to buy their freedom by paying compensation to the victim's relatives, which was problematic because most honour killings are committed by close relatives.
In March 2005, the Pakistani parliament rejected a bill which sought to strengthen the law against the practice of honour killing declaring it to be un-Islamic. The bill was eventually passed in 2006 as the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act of 2006, also known as The Women's Protection Bill. However, doubts of its effectiveness remained. The bill created a punishment of imprisonment for life and a fine if a woman is abducted or induced to marry a person without her personal consent and will. The bill also expanded the definition of rape to include sexual intercourse without a woman's consent, against her will, a punishment for the false accusation of fornication, and expanding zina to be prosecutable only if accused by four male eye-witnesses and registered in court(discretionary punishment for zina removed). Even with these added protections against crimes that commonly lead to honour killing, honour killing itself was not addressed in this bill. Doubts of the effectiveness of this bill have remained. 2b1af7f3a8