In 2013, 869 women became victims of “honor killings” in Pakistan, according to Canadian Professor Judy Haiven. Compare this to the United States, where 1600 women were killed by their male partners or husbands in the same year, according to US-based Violence Policy Center. Unlike domestic violence deaths in America, Pakistani honor killings make regular headlines. A recent example is the global media coverage of the killing of Qandeel Baloch who gained fame as a Pakistani social media celebrity.
In a letter to Toronto Star newspaper in June 2014, Professor Haiven wrote:
"Maybe the women wanted to leave the marriage, or had found a new partner, but clearly the men felt betrayed and dishonored by their partners and killed them. The media are quick to target women murders in Muslim-dominated countries, but maybe the media should also look at the facts in the U.S. (and Canada) as well."
Regardless of the intent of the western media and Pakistani westernized elite, it is heartening to see that Pakistan parliament has responded to the scourge of "honor killings" by enacting new legislation to stiffen the penalties for the perpetrators of this crime.
Previously, killers could be pardoned by a victim's family to avoid a jail term under Qisas and Diyat laws. Now forgiveness will only spare them the death penalty. The perpetrator convicted of honor killing will have serve a mandatory minimum jail term of 25 years.
When I tweeted out the news of the new legislation, there were many who liked it and retweeted it. However, I also received responses from a gentleman who was clearly more interested in attacking Muslims. Here are some tweets and responses from this exchange:
Bryan Valvana @BryanValvana: Maybe most people never knew the loophole existed because muslims like @Deanofcomedy and @lsarsour never criticized or said a word about it.
RH: @BryanValvana @Deanofcomedy @lsarsour Killers often go free in #US and #Europe. Neither western nor #Pakistan laws are perfect.
BV: @haqsmusings @Deanofcomedy @lsarsour Right. A loophole letting honor killers go free is "imperfect." Not "sick, barbaric & evil."
RH: @BryanValvana #Pakistan fixed its law. Canadian Prof Judy Haivan says more #honorkillings in #US than in #Pakistanhttps://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2014/06/02/h...
BV: @haqsmusings That's an opinion, not a fact. That's also totally ridiculous. How do you believe this self serving garbage?
RH: @BryanValvana unlike your bigoted garbage, Canadian Prof backs up her opinion with US government data on domestic violence deaths in America
BV: @haqsmusings People who commit domestic violence go to prison, there's no loophole that allows them to go free. The comparison is insane.
RH: @BryanValvana Not always. Besides, any jail time is often too little, too late for the victims.
BV: @haqsmusings No one is arguing that. Classic straw man. You've successfully derailed the conversation. Transparent tactic.
The above twitter conversation should give my readers a flavor of how even a good act in Pakistan gets attacked as part of the Islamophobes' intense campaign against all things Pakistan and Muslim.
What is often forgotten is that until 1977, the California Penal Code stated that wives charging husbands with criminal assault and battery must suffer more injuries than commonly needed for charges of battery.
Also ignored is the fact that Pakistanis themselves take seriously the issue of violence against women. Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has been amply recognized with both Pakistani and international awards for her work to highlight the problem.