GUJRAT: As many as 25 women have been killed in Gujrat district during the current year, showing a significant decline in honour killings compared to the last few years.

Most of the women were killed by their kin either to preserve honour or to settle domestic disputes. However, none of the suspects involved in these cases have been awarded punishment by the courts due to procedural hitches and reconciliation between complainants and accused.

The number of women killed during 2017 was 41 with 35 killed in 2016, 36 in 2014 and 51 in 2013. The conviction rate has been very low even though the state itself becomes complainant in such cases after legislation to the effect a few years ago. Most of the cases were reported in rural areas.

Conviction rate very low

A senior police investigation officer told Dawn that he believed culture and traditions were the main reason behind violence against women. He stressed effective legislation and awareness campaigns to contain such violence as suspects would often get released on technical grounds mainly due to pardon or reconciliation with complainants, who were, ironically, the victim’s relatives.

Asad Gujjar, the spokesman for the Gujrat police, told Dawn that all the 39 nominated suspects involved in these 25 reported cases of 2018 had been arrested.

He said challans in all cases were sent to the courts. Three cases were quashed since two of them were suicide cases and in third one the parties reconciled and two cases were still under investigation.

He said five women had been killed over honour and 20 others were slain over marriage and other domestic disputes. He said that the ratio of such cases had witnessed a sharp decline in comparison to the previous years as the number of all murder cases in the district had also decreased in the year 2018.

According to a rough estimate of the year 2018, around 100 people were murdered in various incidents as the number of such cases was more than 200 some 15 years ago.

A social scientist belonging to the University of Gujrat says Pakistan has high prevalence of violence against women owing to various factors such as a patriarchal society where gender inequality at various levels was accepted as a norm. Men had assumed higher status in society irrespective of caste, creed, finance and education, he said.

“Pakistani society is complex with various ethnic groups, but when it comes to gender inequality almost all groups, classes and sects seem to follow this rule. This unequal power lies at the root of violence against women,” he explained.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2018