According to Human Rights Watch, honour killings are acts of violence, often resulting in murder, committed by male family members against female family members. The involvement of women in planning such murders is also very common. These acts are carried out when women are believed to have brought shame upon their families.
Such crimes occur when women engage in activities such as conversing with men outside their family, experiencing rape, refusing arranged marriages, leaving abusive husbands, or adopting a more Western lifestyle. These actions are deemed highly shameful and disgraceful, leading some to believe that the women involved deserve nothing less than death.
Honour killing represents a deadly and criminal form of violence mostly against women and often men, perpetuated under the guise of preserving honour and societal values. Tragically, these women often lack legal protection, resulting in an alarming increase in the number of honour killings. It is also seen that women show no resistance to such acts and in fact many even praise it as they consider it the best solution for such problems.
Addressing the issue of honour killings in Gilgit Baltistan necessitates tackling these sociocultural barriers. Comprehensive education programmes promoting gender equality, human rights, and critical thinking play a crucial role in this regard. Additionally, raising awareness about alternative conflict resolution methods, providing support to victims, and implementing stringent legal measures can contribute to reducing honour killings and fostering a more inclusive and equitable society
Gilgit Baltistan, a region known for its unique geography and natural beauty, also carries a dark reputation for crimes against women in certain remote areas. Among these areas, the districts of Diamer, Ghizer and Nagar face particularly high rates of honour-based crimes. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Gilgit office reported a significant increase in honour-based crimes, receiving reports of 60 such incidents from January to November 2015.
From 2016 to 2022, approximately 344 females in Gilgit Baltistan have suffered due to honour killings. Unfortunately, many cases go unreported in the media, leaving a significant portion of these crimes hidden from public knowledge. Districts such as Nagar, Diamer and Ghizer witness 60 percent of the reported cases.
The ratio between honour killings in Gilgit Baltistan reveals a significant disparity in the suffering experienced by men and women. According to available data, the male percentage of honour killings is 35 percent, while the female percentage is 65. This imbalance clearly illustrates that women are disproportionately affected by honour killings in the region. The ratio difference further highlights the urgent need to address the systemic discrimination and violence faced by women in Gilgit Baltistan.
Several factors contribute to honour killings in Gilgit Baltistan. One major reason is the occurrence of extramarital affairs. In conservative societies, such actions are viewed as a violation of cultural norms and moral values. Engaging in relationships outside of marriage is considered dishonourable and brings shame to the family. In extreme cases, this perceived dishonour may lead to the killing of those involved in order to restore family honour.0
Another contributing factor is the refusal to abide by family decisions. In tightly-knit communities like Gilgit Baltistan, family decisions hold significant importance. When individuals go against their families’ wishes or expectations, it is seen as a defiance of traditional values. In order to preserve family honour and maintain social order, honour killings may be carried out.
Raising a voice against cultural traditions is also a trigger for honour killings. Gilgit Baltistan boasts a unique cultural heritage, and challenging traditional practices can be seen as a direct affront to the community’s values and customs. Individuals who question or speak out against these traditions may face severe consequences, including honour-based violence.
The prevalence of illiteracy and lack of awareness further contribute to honour killings in Gilgit Baltistan. Limited education and awareness regarding human rights, gender equality, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms hinder progress in eliminating such practices. Illiteracy perpetuates regressive beliefs and reinforces patriarchal structures that underpin honour killings.
In the region of Gilgit Baltistan, the presence of religious sectarian tensions serves as a significant factor in instances of honour killings. Specifically, when individuals from the Shia and Sunni sects respectively form emotional connections and express a desire to unite in marriage, they often encounter a grave risk of being subjected to violence and ultimately killed by their own families. The primary motivation behind these tragic acts is the deep-rooted sectarian discord and animosity prevailing in the region.
However, the primary underlying factor in honour killings in Gilgit Baltistan is the presence of sociocultural barriers. These barriers encompass a range of societal norms, beliefs, and expectations that perpetuate the concept of honour and shame. Strict adherence to cultural traditions, the preservation of family reputation, and the need to conform to social norms create an environment where honour killings are seen as a means to maintain societal order.
Addressing the issue of honour killings in Gilgit Baltistan necessitates tackling these sociocultural barriers. Comprehensive education programmes promoting gender equality, human rights, and critical thinking play a crucial role in this regard. Additionally, raising awareness about alternative conflict resolution methods, providing support to victims, and implementing stringent legal measures can contribute to reducing honour killings and fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.