By Zahra Memon
Each year, approximately 500 women in Pakistan are killed by family members because they have “dishonored” their families by eloping, mingling with men or doing anything that goes against the conservative traditions — even getting raped — according to Al Jazeera.
In the past, those who committed honor killings were often unpunished. New legislation, though, states that although the family may forgive the perpetrators for their honor killing, the government will take action and imprison the responsible individuals for 25 years at the very least, but imprisonment can last a lifetime.
The bill did not become a law overnight. According to Pakistan Today, the bill was established in 2015 to be passed as legislation by Sughra Imam, a senator at the time. Thereafter, the bill went through a series of oppositions, but it finally passed unanimously on Thursday, Oct. 6, according to The Telegraph.
Another bill was passed that requires DNA testing in order to convict rapists more easily, according to CNN.
“There is no honor in honor killing,” Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, according to CNN. “Women are the most essential part of our society and I believe in their empowerment, protection and emancipation so that they can equally contribute towards development and prosperity of our country.”
The new legislation has received support from across the world.
“This is a step in the right direction,” women’s activist and columnist Aisha Sarwari told AFP news agency, according to Al Jazeera. “We should take our little wins where we get them and proceed forward and not retreat.”
Leaders in Pakistan are standing up for basic rights of women and are taking this law very seriously, which many see as a major progression for the country. Supporters believe that the implementation of this law will improve the living standards in Pakistan. However, some individuals are strongly against it.
Conservative Senator Hafiz Hamdullah said parliament should instead address elopements by women, claiming 17,000 had done so since 2014, according to Al Jazeera.
“Why don’t we see what are the reasons behind such killings? Why are girls eloping from their homes?” he said, according to Al Jazeera. “They are trying to impose Western culture over here. We will not allow (it).”