A Tragic Tradition

Anum Ehsan
In the vast landscape of progress and modernity, some societies remain tethered to ancient practices that cast a dark shadow over humanity’s collective advancement. Among these disheartening remnants of the past, honor killings stand out as a grave issue still haunting certain regions of Pakistan, particularly its rural areas. This archaic and deeply ingrained form of gender-based violence continues to threaten the lives and freedoms of women, perpetuating a culture of fear and oppression. Despite some progress in recent years, the harrowing reality of unreported cases underscores the urgency to address the deeply rooted problem of honor killings and to create lasting change.
Defined by the brutal act of family members, often male relatives, ending the life of a woman in the name of preserving family honor, honor killings are a horrifying manifestation of the stifling grip of traditional values on personal freedom and choice. Women are brutally murdered for daring to love someone of their choice, pursuing education, or seeking independence. These killings are executed under the guise of protecting the family’s honor, leaving countless lives shattered and families torn apart.
According to reports from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the number of reported honor killings showed a decline from 898 in 2014 to 277 in 2020. While this decline is encouraging, it is vital to recognize the dark reality lurking beneath these figures. Numerous unreported cases remain hidden, concealed by families to avoid social stigma and legal consequences. The actual scale of this heinous crime is far greater than official data can convey, painting a distressing picture of a society grappling with the burden of archaic customs.
The battle against honor killings demands a multi-pronged approach that involves transforming societal mindsets, enacting stringent laws, and providing robust support systems for victims. Legal reforms must be put in place to ensure that perpetrators of such gruesome acts face severe consequences for their actions. Moreover, awareness campaigns should be launched to challenge the deeply ingrained beliefs that perpetuate this violence. Education is a potent weapon in dismantling the foundations of gender-based violence and fostering a progressive society.
However, changing cultural norms is not a task that can be achieved overnight. It necessitates the collective effort of governments, civil society, and international organizations to create an environment where such abhorrent practices are no longer tolerated. Community engagement is crucial to encouraging dialogue and promoting gender equality, pushing forward the agenda of change.
The fight against honor killings is a fight for the soul of a nation. It is a battle to reclaim the dignity and freedom of women, to ensure that they are not condemned to a life of fear and oppression. Let us stand united in demanding justice for the victims and survivors of honor killings, and in transforming Pakistan into a society where the value of every life is cherished and protected. Only then can we hope for a future where honor is synonymous with respect, compassion, and equality for all?
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the writer and Balochistan Voices does not necessarily agree with them. 
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