Over 900 Pakistani women killed for honour’

Islamabad: Over 900 Pakistani women were killed last year in the name of honour for allegedly shaming their families while nearly 4,500 others were the target of domestic violence, the country's top rights watchdog said in a report on Thursday.

"According to media monitoring and field reports from HRCP volunteers, at least 943 women were killed in the name of honour, of which 93 were minors," the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said in its report for the past year.

The reasons for the "honour killings", as such murders are referred to in Pakistan, were "illicit relations" in 595 cases and the "demand to marry of their own choice" in 219 cases, the HRCP said in its 'State of Human Rights in 2011' report.

Seven Christian and two Hindu women were among the victims of honour killings. The murderers in 180 cases were brothers of the victim and the husband in 226 cases. A majority of the women killed 557 were married.

Before being killed with firearms and blunt weapons, at least 19 women were raped while 12 were gang raped, the report said.

Quoting figures compiled by the NGO Aurat Foundation, the report said cases of domestic violence showed a marked increase in the first six months of 2011 as compared to the previous year, with 4,448 cases reported. 

Abduction and kidnapping remained the most common crimes (1,137 cases), with murder (799 cases), and rape and murder (396 cases) being the second and third most commonly reported crimes. 

Nearly all victims of domestic violence were married women and the perpetrators were mostly husbands or close relatives. 

At least 38 women suffered acid attacks while 47 were set on fire. Ten women had their heads shaved as part of public humiliation while nine had their nose or other body parts amputated, the report said. 

Quoting figures tabled in parliament in February 2011, the report said that over the past two years, 8,433 cases of violence against women were registered in Punjab province and a total of 11,798 cases across the country. 

The reported noted that 701 women committed suicide and 428 tried to end their lives last year. 

The statistics highlighted the scale of violence against women in Pakistan, where there is no law against domestic violence.

Despite some progress in protecting women's rights, the HRCP suggested that the government needs to do more to prosecute the perpetrators of violence. 

The HRCP recommended that a bill against domestic violence needs to be passed by Parliament and laws framed for implementation. 

More women should be included in decision-making bodies like the federal cabinet, it suggested. 
"While some progressive legislation concerning women was passed in the National Assembly, there is the need to follow up on its implementation and for there to be exemplary cases," the report recommended.

"More women and transgender people need to be facilitated into the workforce on better terms of employment to make them a part of the social force and able to withstand family pressures and domestic violence," it said.