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HRW Calls on Pakistan to Prosecute 'Honor' Killings

An ambulance transports the body of a Pakistani teenager burnt alive by her mother from her home in Lahore on June 8, 2016.

Human Rights Watch is calling on Pakistan to "urgently" investigate and prosecute those responsible for a reported increase in "honor" killings in the country.

As recently as June 8, HRW said a mother in Lahore burned to death her daughter for “bringing shame to the family” by marrying a man of her choice. On May 31, family members also burned to death a 19-year-old school teacher in Murree of Punjab province for refusing an arranged marriage proposal.

On May 5, the body of a 16-year-old girl was found inside a burnt vehicle in Abbottabad of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for helping a friend marry of her own choice; her killing was ordered by a traditional assembly of elders or “jirga” HRW said.

“So-called honor killings have been a long-festering problem in Pakistan, and the recent escalating trend makes it clear they won’t go away on their own,” said HRW Asia Director Brad Adams.

Pakistani law allows the family of a murder victim to pardon the perpetrator. A 2004 criminal law amendment made “honor” killings a criminal offense, but the law remains poorly enforced in Pakistan, HRW said.

In March, Pakistan’s senate passed an anti-honor killing bill, currently pending National Assembly approval.

HRW is calling on Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to support the bill, which is intended to eliminate the option of murder committed in the name of “honor” to be forgiven.