ISLAMABAD – Tasleem was just 18 years old when her brother shot her in the head. Her crime was marrying a man of her choice, considered a betrayal of a family’s honour among many in Pakistan who live by an ancient code of conduct.
Last year, three people a day were killed in the name of “honour” in Pakistan: a total of 1,096 women and 88 men, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which says the true figure is likely higher because many such crimes go unreported.
In 2014, the number was 1,005 women, including 82 children, up from 869 women killed a year earlier.
Outrage at the practice has grown in recent months as Pakistani news channels have reported on girls who are shot, strangled or burned alive, most often by a brother or a parent.
Pakistan’s conservative Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has promised to introduce legislation that will remove a legal loophole that allows the family of a murder victim to effectively pardon the murderer. The loophole is often invoked in honour killings to prevent any prosecution.
“You will die awaiting justice from a court,” said Mukhtar Mai, who was gang raped and paraded naked through her village as punishment for a perceived insult to the honour of a rival family by her brother.
“Girls are coming forward … but the issue is that no one is listening to them,” she said. “Every time a woman tries to stand up to the system, the man-made system pushes her down hard.”
For many of the victims, who are brought up according to a strict interpretation of Islam that doesn’t allow images, their only picture is one take in death.
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