A dark stain on society, honour killings continue in Pakistan, as three women were shot dead on the direction of a local Jirga in Kohat, on Sunday. A young woman, her aunt and cousin were murdered in cold blood by their families.

The motivation behind these murders varies. But, there are two constants: the brutality and confidence of the perpetrators, and the deafness of the authorities. Society has obliged women with several opportunities to lose their right to life. The list of ‘serious crimes’ for which women are targeted include; “perceived” adultery, marrying against the family’s wishes, demanding divorce from abusive husbands, rape etc. Enmity, matters of inheritance and disputes over property also lead to women paying with their blood, under the false pretext of ‘dishonourable activities’.

The studied and deliberated nature of the murders, and the fact that just 20 victims received medical help before death, is reflective of the grave intentions of the people responsible. The women, in this society, face pressures unknown to their kind in most parts of the civilised world. They live, not as persons free to make choices independently and pursue dreams, but as public property. Constantly judged, constantly scrutinized and constantly policed.

Why is it that the honour of the families always hinges on the conduct of wives and daughters, not husbands and sons?  A considerable chunk of the 51% is forced to spend their lives under a form of critical surveillance, with each and every move being monitored to deduce whether the ‘subject’ is consistently adhering and conforming to the strict ‘moral code’, designed and implemented by an inherently patriarchal society. Those looking obsessively for fault are never disappointed. The people who wish to obsess and make mountains out of molehills, will do so, no matter what the degree of ‘piety’ of the accused.

The killers will kill. That is the way it has been for ages. But, there is such a thing called an elected government in the country, and it must take responsibility. Religious fervour motivates strangely. It is a year now, since YouTube has been completely banned for hurting the sentiments of Muslims, by carrying the video clip of a hate-speech filled film. Muslim sentiments ought to be less hurt perhaps, by the mischief and crassness of others, but much more by the cruel inhumanity of a few, which has come to define a faith of many millions to the world. Outrage is misdirected towards cosmetic offences, instead of the very real evil that finds space in society, disguised, and largely unquestioned, as ‘custom’.