LAHORE (Thomson Reuters Foundation)-- Honour killings of women and girls in Pakistan increased in 2014, while rape and some other forms of violence against women posted significant declines, a leading human rights group said on Friday.
In its 2014 annual report, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said honour killings in Pakistan rose to 1,005 in 2014, a 15 percent increase over 869 such murders in the prior year.
Illegal in Pakistan since 2004, honour killings are a long-standing customary practice usually committed by family members and are not always reported. They usually take place when a woman, or more rarely, a man, is perceived to have disgraced the family in some way, including conducting an unapproved romantic relationship, marrying without permission or refusing to consent to an arranged marriage.
According to the report, cases in 2014 included family members bludgeoning Farzana Iqbal, a pregnant woman, to death outside the high court in Lahore for marrying without their approval.
HRCP researchers found a decline in reported rapes and incidents involving acid attacks. In 2014, 828 women and girls were raped, down from 2,703 in 2013 and there were 105 acid attacks on women and girls compared with 150 incidents in the prior year.
Human rights campaigners said, however, that violence against Pakistani women is rampant and perpetrators are too rarely arrested or prosecuted.
Although Pakistan has passed legislation to eliminate violence against women, honour killings continue to target women and girls and represent a crime that largely goes unpunished, said Asma Jahangir, a prominent human rights lawyer and activist.
In a report released earlier this month, the International Crisis Group (ICG), a nonprofit organisation that researches issues involving conflict, said violence against women was still endemic in Pakistan amid a climate of impunity and state inaction.
According to Samina Ahmed, ICG South Asia project director, discriminatory laws and a dysfunctional criminal justice system leave women in Pakistan at grave risk.
“The federal and provincial governments should support new legislation and implement existing (laws) to empower and protect women,” said Ahmed.
The HRCP report came to much the same conclusion. It urged that where laws do not exist they should be adopted and current laws should be implemented to reduce incidences of child marriage, forced religious conversions, honour killings, domestic violence, acid attacks and other crimes of violence against women.
(Editing by Lisa Anderson)
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