Seeds: The “honor” of a woman is valued in many cultures, but in developed western nations, one rarely realizes the extreme extent to which women’s lives are valued or disvalued based on said “honor.” In other parts of the world, some women (and men) are killed by family members if the family believes that the woman has dishonored their family in some way. Dishonoring your family may include the acts of refusing an arranged marriage, having sex outside marriage, being in a relationship that their family does not approve of, being raped, dressing “provocatively” or “inappropriately,” renouncing their religion, or having sex with someone of the same gender.
Core: A recent report stated that 1,096 women and 88 men were killed in Pakistani honor killings last year. Most of the victims were shot, some were stoned, and others were attacked with acid. While Pakistan has laws that denounce so-called “honor killings,” the charges can be dropped if the victim’s family forgives the perpetrator (which they often do, given that traditional family values are an integral part of Pakistani society). Or, charges are not even brought because the bodies of the victims are never found.
Skin: In February, Punjab, a large province in Pakistan, passed a law that criminalized all violence against women. While there has been some international discussion on this law, the fact remains that women’s rights in developing countries remain in the background of the international stage. With the dramatics of presidential candidates literally offending entire nations, Americans may sometimes struggle to find time to care about over one thousand women being brutally murdered by their fathers, brothers, and husbands just because they want to dress a certain way, marry a certain person, or practice a certain faith.
Leaves: While the law in Punjab remains for now, it is unlikely that other areas will adopt it. In fact, some are worried that it will be overturned in Punjab as well. Hopefully the international stage and Pakistani stage will give women’s rights more attention. There have been widespread protests all throughout Pakistan, revolving around women’s rights, but because sexual inequality is such a deep-seeded issue in the nation, these protests are rarely taken seriously.
Food For Thought: Do you think there is anything the international community can do fix this problem? Do you think that inherent gender bias prevents these stories from being popularized? Do you think such killings occur in other parts of the world? Is there any way to fix the gender bias that plagues the world, not only Pakistan?
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