Maria Bibi’s Tragic Honor Killing Unveils Pakistan’s Dark Reality

Farrukh Saif

March 28, 2024

Maria-Bibi-Honor-Killing

In a tragic incident highlighting the persistence of honor killings in Pakistan, the life of 22-year-old Maria Bibi was brutally snuffed out by her own father and brother in the name of preserving family honor. The harrowing episode unfolded in Chak 477 JB Aluwal (Basti Odan) near Toba Tek Singh, where Maria Bibi was strangled to death before being quietly buried, her voice silenced forever.

This incident occurred on the night of March 17 and 18, sending shockwaves through the community and reigniting conversations about the deep-rooted societal norms that continue to sanction such heinous acts.

One brother recorded the murder, and the rest of the family watched the horrific incident unfold, seemingly unperturbed.

The heart-wrenching video captures the man strangling his sister, with other family members, including the victim’s sister-in-law, present during the chilling act. Shockingly, after the crime, the father of both the perpetrator and the victim even offered water to the suspect.

Honor Killing:

Honor killings are deeply rooted in the patriarchal culture of Pakistan, where women’s behavior and choices are seen as a reflection of the family’s reputation. Victims are often killed for perceived transgressions such as refusing an arranged marriage, seeking a divorce, or even just appearing in photos with unrelated men. The perpetrators, who are frequently close relatives of the victim, are often able to evade justice due to legal loopholes that allow them to be pardoned by the victim’s own family.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, at least 384 cases of honor killings in 2022 alone, including 103 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In 2023, there were more than 500 women, of which 132 were only in Sindh province, and the rest were in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

However, human rights groups estimate the actual number could be as high as 1,000 to 5000 women killed per year, as many cases go unreported.

The legal framework has been significantly revised to address honor killings. One of the most notable reforms occurred in 2016 when the country passed legislation aimed at reducing such crimes. The law, known as the Anti-Honor Killing Laws (Criminal Amendment Bill) 2015, closed a legal loophole that previously allowed perpetrators to escape punishment by seeking forgiveness from other family members. Despite these legal advancements, implementing the law remains a significant challenge, with many cases going unreported or dismissed due to societal pressures and lack of evidence.

In Our Opinion:

Addressing this deeply entrenched problem also requires a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach, including strengthening the criminal justice system, providing better support and protection for victims, and challenging the patriarchal attitudes that underpin the practice of honor killings.

Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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