Qandeel Baloch – Awaiting Justice

Qandeel Baloch – Awaiting Justice

Murderers of Qandeel Baloch were recently pardoned by her parents again for the second time since the case had opened. Pardoning and forgiving criminals is so common in this country given the external and internal pressures people face in order to safeguard themselves from the same criminals and perpetrators. As far Qandeel’s case is concerned, her parents have been fighting to find justice for their daughter since three years. She had been strangled to death by her own brothers on July 15th, 2016 – a murder that was termed as “honor killing”. Being financially unequipped and pressurized by everyone around them, only god knows what kind of trials they must have had to face for the past few years to see the end of this horrendous yet surreal case.

The prosecution, to my surprise, actually followed the law and responded with a written statement, stating that pardoning the accused was not legally permissible in cases of ‘honor killing’. Furthermore, the statement also read that according to the amendments made to the Criminal Law Act 2004, killing in the name of honor could not be pardoned by agreements to compromise:

“Pardoning the suspects was not permissible despite amendments in Section 311 of the Pakistan Penal Code,” it read.

According to the law, a compromise is not permissible if the complainant(s) and suspect(s) is/are heirs of the victim.

However, here we are again, three years later, and the criminals still haven’t been punished. If such cases take this long to be solved, it gives leeway to other perpetrators as well whose sickening acts don’t attract any consequences. To realize that incidents like this occur every day, multiple times a day, and do not even get addressed, makes me sick. To think that there are murderers and rapists roaming around freely without any consequences for their sick actions is what scares me the most. In this case particularly, especially considering that the intent to murder had been confessed to by the murderers themselves, we still haven’t seen the imbeciles behind bars! How our criminal justice system works is beyond my comprehension, especially since the anti-honor killing laws had been updated simply as a result of this particular case. Yet, there we haven’t seen any accountability.

Many men and women still support the concept of ‘honor killing’ despite the criminalization of the act because it is too difficult for some people to accept a woman who utilizes autonomy the way she wants. Qandeel was the perfect example of that – she took the power she deserved in the first place and used that very power to do whatever she wanted to do. She supported her otherwise impoverished family, gave them a safe place to live in, provided food and shelter and contributed positively towards their well-being and living. Meanwhile, what did the sons do? Became a complete disgrace to the family by taking the life of another human being who supported them throughout and protected them from being left on the streets hungry, impoverished or dead! It seems that what a woman wears and how much skin she shows is more of a concern for people than punishing those who literally kill others.

Qandeel Baloch was a social media celebrity and spoke about things that would perhaps always remain taboos because our public’s mentality doesn’t have the capacity to understand what it means to be a free person. Most people like to be controlled because that is the only way they know how to function or be treated; they don’t know what it is like to be completely accepting of themselves and when they see someone else (especially another woman) celebrating herself, it usually ignites insane envy and discomfort.

Qandeel was just one woman for whom a specific law had been amended to protect many others like her. Unfortunately, though, many others are still left hopeless and most will continue to suffer and wait endlessly to find justice.

Though I am glad about the prosecution doing its job properly, I have yet to see what the outcome of this case will be. One can only hope that it will set the right precedent so that a person will have to think twice before committing a similar crime in future.

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which she might be associated.

Purniya Awan

The writer is a Gender Studies graduate from York University, has been nominated as a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, is a former member of Youth Parliament Pakistan and is currently working as a Communications Specialist at the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women. She tweets @PurniyaA



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