July 14, 2016
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of travelling to Ottawa to meet the Honourable Rona Ambrose, leader of the Canadian Opposition. Among other things she spoke about the need to have a round table of women who can discuss serious issues like honor killings. She has received and seen Clarion’s documentary Honor Diaries and is keenly interested in the issue.
Similarly, there has been an interest from women in power a
ll the way from UK to Europe. Baroness Caroline Cox in UK is fighting this issue by exposing Sharia Councils. Groups of Kurdish women in Sweden are commemorating the victims of honor killings and exposing the dangers of the problem within their society, and on July 14, the organization Karma Nirvana in the UK is commemorating the life of Shafilea Ahmed who was suffocated to death by her parents 13 years ago.
While it’s comforting to see that movements against honor-based violence are picking up momentum in the West, it’s troubling to hear the news coming out of my native land, Pakistan.
According to the Independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, honor killings are on the rise in Pakistan, with an average of three people killed a day in honor-based crimes in 2015. According to the commission, there were 1,096 women and 88 men killed in “honor” crimes as compared to 1,005 in 2014. Those who kill for honor are hardly ever punished because a law based on sharia (Islamic) law allows the victim to forgive a killer, and most often due to family pressure, the victim is convinced to forgive.
It’s ironical that this happens in a country that calls itself “The Islamic Republic.” If honor killings are faith-based, then that faith should be banned, and if they are not faith-based, then the practice should be banned.
But who’s listening?
Raheel Raza is an award-winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity. She is one of nine women's rights activists who took part in Clarion Project's film "Honor Diaries" which breaks the silence on honor violence against women.