“‘Honour Killings’ and the law in Pakistan”

This paper reviews case law on 'honour killings' in Pakistan, where under the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance heirs of a victim of murder are entitled to pardon the murderer. The paper reflects, through an in-depth analysis of case law, criticisms made of the legal system and the judiciary in the failure to extend the protection of the law to women in these circumstances. The paper begins with an examination of the historical and socio-legal context of 'honour crimes' in Pakistan, including consideration of the British colonial power's endorsement of patriarchal tribal values in the Penal Code of 1860 and judicial interpretations of these provisions until their repeal in 1990. Next the paper discusses the current provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code 1898 applicable to cases of 'honour crimes', discussing problems in prosecuting such cases arising from the limitations of statutory laws and judicial decisions. Particular problems are highlighted, notably those arising in the investigation and prosecution of 'honour crimes' and the state's failure to proactively utilise provisions in the new law to prevent 'honour crimes.' The final section of the paper provides an overview of the responses to 'honour crimes' in civil society, and analyses state rhetoric and the continued duality of the higher judiciary on 'honour crimes' issues.

Warraich, Sohail Akbar
Publisher and location: 
Zed Books: London, UK
Source publication: 
‘Honour’: Crimes, Paradigms, and Violence Against Women. Lynn Welchman and Sara Hossain (eds). p. 78-110