THAT it has taken seven long years and two fact-finding missions before an FIR has been filed in the suspected ‘honour’ killing of five girls in Kohistan, speaks volumes.

The case came to light in 2011 when reports emerged that an online video of a young man dancing before a group of teenage girls had led to murder.

The mixed gathering had taken place in a village located in an extremely conservative part of KP. In the eyes of the locals, the youngsters had violated tribal norms and brought dishonour upon them.

Reportedly, five girls in the audience, as well as the man who was dancing and his two brothers, were later murdered on a jirga’s orders.

While the fact-finding missions were unable to definitively establish whether the murders had taken place, circumstantial and empirical evidence strongly suggested that was the case.

Moreover, Afzal Kohistani, a brother of the male victims, had been alleging the same, and the FIR was registered on his petition to the Supreme Court.

Read more: Kohistan video case: Girls declared alive by SC had actually been killed, says Bari

The delays in the resolution of a matter involving such mediaeval barbarity illustrate how law enforcement’s indifference to crimes of ‘honour’ can stand in the way of justice.

In a social milieu where not much remains hidden within the community, the local police could have solved the case had they expended a little effort.

Instead, Afzal Kohistani himself, for much of the intervening period, had to live in hiding because of threats to his life.

The remoteness of the location also made it more difficult for human rights activists to ascertain the truth.

In fact, if not for the video — which by being available on the net for all to see possibly compounded the youngsters’ ‘crime’ — the truth may never have come out.

While improvements to the honour killing law are important, they cannot compensate for a primitive mindset.

The justice system needs to send a very strong message to those who commit crimes of ‘honour’ and those who neglect their duty to investigate them.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2018

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