On May 14, two women in Pakistan were shot and buried after a video of them kissing a man resurfaced online. The women were cousins, ages 22 and 24 respectively, and they were murdered in what is called "honor killing."
Kissing video that caused the murder
According to police officer Muhammad Nawaz Khan, both women lived in a remote village in North Waziristan province in Pakistan. There were two suspects behind the murders, one of them was the father of one of the victims, and the other is the brother of the other victim.
Khan said that both men were arrested on May 17 and they confessed to shooting and burying the women. What led to the killings was the leaked video captured in a mobile phone that shows a man kissing both women on the lips, while an unidentified third woman can be heard laughing in the background.
The said the video was captured last year but it resurfaced on social media this month. According to Khan, the video led to the family's decision to kill the women. The third woman's life is not in danger, but the man in the video was arrested on May 18 and was charged with vulgarity.
The areas in North and South Waziristan in Pakistan are known to be very conservative and they have a strict "honor code." According to Amnesty International, women in the area are not allowed to go outside unaccompanied and the social standing of a family depends on the obedience of the women to family demands.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan or HRCP said in a statement that a lot of people have condemned the senseless killings of women in Waziristan on social media. Authorities were called to make it clear that the public is not in favor of the practice. HRCP added in their statement that the local administration must make sure that the third girl and the man in the viral video are safe.
Honor killings in Pakistan
According to the 2019 report by Human Rights Watch, around 1,000 honor killings happen in Pakistan every year. However, there are no official statistics around the number because most killings are not reported or they are ruled out as suicide or natural death.
Pakistan passed a bill in October 2016 that fixed a loophole that allowed murderers to avoid prosecution if they are pardoned by the family of the victims. In the past, family members who were complicit in the murders could pardon those who committed the murder.
The new legislation was passed after a social media star and feminist Qandeel Baloch was killed by her brother in Punjab for "dishonoring" the family. Honor killings in the country are now equivalent to a life sentence, but it is still a common practice in Pakistan's tribal areas.
The honor killings are done to women who are said to have brought dishonor and shame to their families. Even though the bill was passed in 2016, honor killings were still prevalent in Pakistan, and the recent killing of the two women proves it.