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UN Human Rights Chief Decries Honor Killing

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay strongly condemned the honor killing of a pregnant woman in Pakistan by her family as revenge for her marrying a man they did not approve of (they nearly killed him as well, but he apparently survived).

The United Nations human rights chief today strongly condemned the killing of a 25-year-old pregnant woman, who was stoned to death by her family as she approached a Pakistani court on Tuesday, and urged the Government to do much more to prevent such killings.

“I am deeply shocked by the death of Farzana Parveen, who, as in the case of so many other women in Pakistan, was brutally murdered by members of her own family simply because she married a man of her own choice,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“I do not even wish to use the phrase ‘honour killing’: there is not the faintest vestige of honour in killing a woman in this way,” she added in a news release, which also noted that Pakistan has one of the highest rates of violence against women globally.

According to reports, some 20 members of Ms. Parveen’s family, including her father and two brothers, attacked her and her husband when they were on their way to the Lahore High Court, where they were due to contest her father’s allegations that she had been kidnapped by her husband and that their marriage was invalid.

“Every year, hundreds of women are killed in Pakistan as a punishment for marrying a man their families have not chosen or for refusing an arranged marriage,” Ms. Pillay said.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 869 women were murdered in so-called ‘honour killings’ in the country last year, but the real figure could be much higher, with many such killings believed to be disguised as accidents, or not reported at all.

As usual, such condemnations ring rather hollow when one realizes that Pakistan is a member of the UN Human Rights Council, along with many other utterly barbaric countries.

Comments

  1. jba55 says

    “United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay”

    Did she start it out by saying, “Hey! Listen!”? Although to be fair, most of what that Navi had to say was at least somewhat useful. Well, sometimes.

  2. Olav says

    Ed:

    As usual, such condemnations ring rather hollow when one realizes that Pakistan is a member of the UN Human Rights Council, along with many other utterly barbaric countries.

    How does that invalidate the statements made by the High Commissioner? Do you doubt her integrity?

    Also, the fact that Pakistan is a member is a good thing. It is one of those factors that forces their government to at least acknowledge the problem.

    Also, calling the whole country of Pakistan “utterly barbaric” is rich coming from an inhabitant of another country that does not have a stellar reputation with regard to human rights. Because by doing so you are throwing all the Pakistani people under the bus who are of good will and just as sickened by these barbaric practices as you.

    It’s perhaps understandable to be cynical in the face of all this evil. But you can improve your opinions and your writing by being a bit less lazy about the details.

    Otherwise it is very good of you that you call attention to these atrocities and I thank you for it.

  3. steffp says

    @Olav, #3
    1) I’m afraid that, as far as Pakistan’s Police- and judicial system is concerned, Ed’s characterization as “barbaric” is not the “broad brush” which you presume. There are indeed people of good will, but they don’t even constitute a relevant voting bloc, and their influence on society at large is small.
    2) The administration is constantly downplaying the rates of violence against women – see here , while concealing the fact that it has no real administrative power in the tribal areas, where diverse versions of the sharia are tribal law, and most of the atrocities happen without any legal consequences. This is a failure of the Pakistan state, far below the noble threshold of “human rights”. The state is unable to enforce the same set of rules in all regions. Call that what you like, but it’s a shame.
    Even outside the tribal areas, the numbers are horrific. 869 honor killings (officially not viewed as murder, by the way)
    3) How would you characterize a legal system that habitually hands out acquittals for rapists (Mukhtaran Bibi), whose barristers at law sprinkle rose petals over the confessed murderer of an official who had spoken out against the death penalty for blasphemers? A legal system that is not allowed to use DNA and medical evidence in rape cases***?
    Up-to-date? Functioning? 21st century? If not “barbaric”, what would your balanced judgment be? And, again, we are not talking about human rights, we’re talking about the rule of law, a prerequisite of statehood.
    ——————————————-
    *** “On May 29, 2013, the Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the Government of Pakistan and the Parliament, declared that DNA tests are not admissible as the main evidence in rape cases. A spokesman for the council said that DNA evidence could, at best, serve as supplementary evidence but could not supersede the Islamic laws laid out for determining rape complaints”. (See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_in_Pakistan)

  4. Olav says

    Steffp #4:

    1) I’m afraid that, as far as Pakistan’s Police- and judicial system is concerned, Ed’s characterization as “barbaric” is not the “broad brush” which you presume.

    I would certainly not have objected to the term “barbaric” if Ed had aimed it at the judicial system of Pakistan. But the problem is, he did not. The broad brush was used to typify the whole country (and as a result, everyone in it). Of course I think I know what he meant but it was lazy writing of him. He probably did not feel he had to actually make his argument. It does not set a good example in the discussion and less intelligent people (than Ed, or you) may start to simply parrot the idea that “Pakistan is barbaric”. And gone is another chance to educate the public on the complexities of the world.

    I also still fail to comprehend how “such condemnations [as those made by Mme. Pillay] ring rather hollow when one realizes that Pakistan is a member of the UN Human Rights Council”. As if the one has anything to do with the other.

    If she had remained silent, now that would be a scandal.

  5. Artor says

    Olav, if you read Ed’s blog for a while, you’ll find he has no hesitation to call out the US for being barbaric as well. Take your cries of “hypocrisy!” and shove them somewhere else.

  6. steffp says

    @Olav, #5
    “such condemnations [as those made by Mme. Pillay] ring rather hollow when one realizes that Pakistan is a member of the UN Human Rights Council”

    Ms. Navanethem Pillay is head of the office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, a UN agency that actively promotes Human Rights. So she has a rather clear Human Rights agenda, but, as the saying goes, no teeth.

    The UN Human Rights Council is a political body, 47 members from the five UN regions, elected for three years by the UN General assembly. Pakistan is a member of that body until at least 2015. The UNHRC has been often criticized as being overly middle-east oriented, and blocking concrete action elsewhere. The electoral process is not based on excellence in Human Rights performance, to put it mildly.

    What Ed refers to is the fact that the High Commission can make all kinds of teethless statements, which are voted down in the council where human rights abusing Governments have seats and sometimes broker majorities.

  7. Olav says

    Artor #6:

    Olav, if you read Ed’s blog for a while,

    Quite a while now, thank you. I do enjoy it here. And for your information: I agree with almost everything Ed ever writes here. It is also a way for me to stay informed about politics in the US. There are of course more such sites, but Ed’s is a special perspective.

    you’ll find he has no hesitation to call out the US for being barbaric as well.

    I know and I appreciate that in him.

    Take your cries of “hypocrisy!” and shove them somewhere else.

    I don’t believe I called Ed hypocritical. I just invited him to improve his commentary. Or tried to explain where in my opinion room for improvement exists. I believe I was gentle and polite enough in my criticism. Besides, I believe Ed is a well balanced adult man who can take a bit of well meant criticism.

    You on the other hand seem to be on hair trigger alert for accusations of hypocrisy. Why is that, Artor?

  8. Olav says

    Steffp #7:

    Ms. Navanethem Pillay is head of the office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, a UN agency that actively promotes Human Rights. So she has a rather clear Human Rights agenda, but, as the saying goes, no teeth.

    Oh, I agree completely. But that does not mean that she must instead keep silent, does it? Or that we should just dismiss whatever she says?

    Only if people like her keep making the case for human rights we can hope that perhaps the situation in countries like Pakistan will ever improve. We know for certain that violence, invasion, war (i.o.w. “teeth”) do not help to improve things. We have always known that and were confirmed in that knowledge quite recently too. So really diplomacy is all we have left and I am glad to see Pillay taking her job seriously.

    More of her, please.

    What Ed refers to is the fact that the High Commission can make all kinds of teethless statements, which are voted down in the council where human rights abusing Governments have seats and sometimes broker majorities.

    Yes, the human rights abusing governments of those “utterly barbaric countries”. A term that still does not sit well with me. It is as if we’re saying that it’s hopeless, nothing good can ever come out of those countries. Or as if those countries do not have a history that may at least partly explain the situation that they are in.

    B.t.w. thank you for discussing civilly.

  9. steffp says

    @Olav, #9
    “But that does not mean that she must instead keep silent, does it?”
    Not at all. It’s the job ob her agency to keep pointing to all kinds of abuses, regardless where they may happen, and propose practical solutions. Her diplomatic possibilities are – as usual in international law – rather weak.
    I’m rather reluctant towards outside interference in inner state matters, and totally opposed to interventions, invasions and such “teethy” behavior. I still remember the futile USSR interventions in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, and the futile US interventions in Lebanon, Vietnam, Kampuchea, Laos, Iraq I and Iraq II, and lately Afghanistan. Not one human rights improvement came out of any of those adventures.

    As for the “barbarism” expression, I’ll try to avoid using it in the future, after all, barbarians are pre-high-culture, which is a stadium most, if not all societies on the planet left behind during the last 200 years, so it may be viewed as derogatory.
    In Pakistans case IMO the correct terms would be “feudal” and “tribal”, with strong influences of ordinary mass refugee problems. Which led to the strong role of Islam/sharia as the only overarching factor, unlike East Pakistan, today’s BanglaDesh, which took a decidedly secular path…

    And, finally, I did note that the Pakistan Ulema Council of Muslim scholars issued a fatwa condemning “honor killings” in general. Brave men.

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