Nearly 1,000 women and girls in Pakistan were murdered in 2011 in honour killings, worrying figures have revealed.
A new report by Pakistan’s leading human rights group has revealed at least 943 women were killed last year by their fathers, husbands or brothers for damaging their family name. Ninety-three of those killed were minors.
However, the true number of those killed is thought to be far higher.
Many cases are thought to have been covered up by relatives and sympathetic police officers, the report revealed.
The figure of 943 was an increase of more than 100 the previous year in 2010.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s annual report highlighted the worrying scale of violence suffered by many women in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where they are frequently treated as second-class citizens and there is no law against domestic violence.
The report said: ‘At least 943 women were killed in the name of honour, of which 93 were minors,’ wrote the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report.’
It concluded: ‘Throughout the year, women were callously killed in the name of ‘honour’ when they went against family wishes in any way, or even on the basis of suspicion that they did so.
‘Women were sometimes killed in the name of “honour” over property disputes and inheritance rights.’
Despite progress on better protecting women’s rights, activists say the government needs to do more to prosecute murderers in cases largely dismissed by police as private, family affairs.
The report also said the police in Pakistan were often a ‘coercive force’ against women, with officers rarely investigating questionable deaths.
This refers to the frequent newspaper reports of young women committing suicide following arguments with family members about their choice of friends. Police often take accounts of these deaths at face value and rarely look at the circumstances in more detail.
The Commission said some victims were raped or gang raped before being killed and only 20 of the 943 killed were reported to have been provided with medical aid before they died.
Most of those killed died at the hands of their brothers and husbands.
The report revealed seven Christian and two Hindu women were among the victims and about 595 of those killed in 2011 were accused of having ‘illicit relations’ while 219 of marrying without permission.
The Commission reported 791 ‘honour killings’ in 2010.
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