Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – A committee of joint session of parliament on Thursday approved the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2016, a little over a week after controversial social media sensation Qandeel Baloch was murdered by her brother at their family residence in Multan on the pretext of honor.

The murder of Baloch has caused civil society and legislators alike to raise concerns about the lack of severe punishment for perpetrators of honor killings. Under Pakistan’s existing laws, those involved in killing family members for honor may be pardoned by other family members and can therefore escape punishment.

Under the proposed new “Anti-Honour Killings” law, relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer from being sentence to capital punishment. However, perpetrators will still face a mandatory life sentence of twelve-and-a-half years.

Legislators have also proposed life imprisonment of 25 years for perpetrators even if they are pardoned by family under the Qisas or Diyat laws. Under the new legislation, this life-sentence will also be non-commutable.

On the other hand, in the anti-rape bill, a provision to conduct DNA tests on both the alleged victim and perpetrator has been added for the first time in the country’s history. Rape of minors, as well as the mentally and physically ill, will also become punishable by death.

Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid chaired the meeting of the joint committee. He announced that the report about both the bills would likely be presented before the joint session of parliament in the first week of August for eventual passage.

Right after the committee meeting, Maryam Nawaz, daughter of the Prime Minister, took to Twitter and revealed how the proposed laws would progress in Parliament.