October 18, 2019, Karachi — In the wake of the rise in incidents of honor killings across the province, the Sindh Human Rights Commission held a consultation titled ‘Karo- Kari/Honor Killing — A Crime Against Humanity; Reasons and Challenges in Stopping the Menace’ to address the menace of honour killings at a local hotel in Karachi. A panel comprised of federal and provincial lawmakers, members of the civil society, judiciary and law enforcement agencies was to discuss the key issues of consultative meeting. The event was moderated by Zulfiqar Shah, Member SHRC /Joint Director PILER and was formally introduced by SHRC’s chairperson Justice (R) Majida Razvi who welcomed participants at the consultation. She spoke about the suffering of women and young girls within the province, as well as the way they are treated in the name of honor. Ms Razvi said that the issue of honor killing is a matter of urgency, which needs to be dealt with in consultation with all the stakeholders and spoke about the need for work to be done on the ground. The lack of implementation of laws was also what Justice (R) Razvi shed light on. Member National Assembly and head of Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) human rights cell, Ms Nafisa Shah was the keynote speaker at the event hosted by SHRC. She said that modernization and reforms within the formal state and justice system are required to deal with the issues of honor killings. “The case (of honor killings) does not exist outside the state, the courtroom is implicated, law is implicated and criminal justice system is deeply implicated… The idea of restorative justice becomes strong when investigation systems and criminal justice systems are weak,” she said when addressing participants at the consultation. She added that even though the aspect of culture and customs is present when one talks about honor killings, but our criminal justice system is also in dire need for reforms and that the so-called garb of Islamization has had a lot of impact on our criminal justice procedures. She also shared about her extensive work on honor killings during her work as a journalist and later when she was pursuing her PhD. She said that the anthropological aspect of the issue was something she wanted to explore. Justice (R) Shaiq Usmani , Judge High Court of Sindh was also spoke at the occasion. “Karo kari has a cultural aspect. It is to restrain women and not give them independence,” he said and added, “There is need for a different law. An anti-honor killing law should be made to separately deal with this heinous crime. A separate commission or institution must be formed to deal with cases related to honor killings.” Abdul Khaliq Shaikh, the DIG headquarter Sindh Police, when delivering his presentation said that Sindh Police recently conducted a research on honor killings in the province. The numbers, even though alarming, are less than those recorded last year. “In the first quarter of 2019, the number of cases reported to Sindh police were 65. In 2018, we recorded 113 cases. A total of 50 women were killed in the name of honor this year, while 28 men were also murdered following the result of honor killing,” he said and added “Sindh police has worked on the prevention of honor killing by forming an anti-honor crime cell. We have previously set up a database, trained over 2000 officers, developed a training manual, and also developed a separate manual for violence against women.” Mr Shaikh also shared that the department has recently formed a human rights cells, as well as human rights desks in every district, along with a network on gender based violence in collaboration with the civil society. With respect to police dealing with cases of honor killings he said that there is need for the components of criminal justice system to be decided in collaboration with different government departments and the civil society. Law enforcement agencies and judges need to be sensitized. Ex Member of the National Commission for Human Rights Ms Anis Haroon said that the issue of honor killings is not new. “Every other day we witness a new wave of honor killings. SHRC’s previous annual report stated that 118 cases of honor killings took place between 2017 and 2018; however, several cases go unreported and families deal with it on their own,” she said and added that when dealing with cases of honor killings the judges and police are all under pressure. “The entire belt where honor killings are prevalent should be declared no-go areas for women. An emergency should be declared to deal with cases of violence against women in the vulnerable region,” she said reflecting on the urgency required to deal with the issue. Other speakers at the consultation included Chief Minister’s Special Assistant for Human Rights Veerji Kohli; Justice (R) S. Ali Aslam Jafri; the dean of social sciences department at SZABIST, Dr Riaz Ahmed Shiakh; Resident Director of Aurat Foundation, Mahnaz Rahman; and Additional Director - FIA, Faizullah Korejo. A set of recommendations was also shared towards the end of the consultation.