In 2013, 869 cases of honour killing were reported in the media, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. The true figure is probably higher. The most recent victim has been a couple and their four children, hacked to death with axes by the wife’s son from a previous marriage. Five young children from the family still survive. The “honour” involved was that of a love marriage contracted decades ago that hurt the feelings of the woman’s tribe. Since women are often killed by their close relations, the loophole allows thousands of murderers to escape without punishment. Farzana Iqbal’s case attracted attention because it took place on a busy street outside the provincial High Court where she had gone to seek protection. Her family beat her to death with bricks while her husband, Muhammed Iqbal, begged nearby police for help. They did not intervene. Would anyone have intervened for this family? The woman’s family obviously knew, and did not care about the death of innocent children.

It is called Karo-Kari, meaning black male and black female. Once a woman in labelled as Kari, family members consider themselves authorised to kill her and the co-accused Karo in order to restore the delicate balance of a family’s “honour.” Honour killings are occurring in a cultural and social context which does not recognise the criminality of the act. Often the police and authorities have the same mindset as the perpetrators. Our society is not just divided across lines of ethnicity and religion where there is no safety for the Hindu, the Christian or the Ahmadi, but we are divided in half as well; against our sisters and mothers and daughters. At the top of the pyramid, is the terrible crime of killing a woman for the sake of a social concept. How long will this go on? What action will now be taken by law enforcement authorities? The media and the public must watch this case very closely until somebody is brought to account.