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Karo-kari (Template:Lang-sd) (Urdu: کاروکاری) are pre-meditated honor killings.

Karo-kari is part of cultural tradition in Pakistan and is a compound word literally meaning "black male" (Karo) and "black female (Kari), in metaphoric terms for adulterer and adulteress. Once labeled as a Kari, male family members get the self-authorized justification to kill her and the co-accused Karo to restore family honor, although in the majority of cases the victim is female, while the murderers are male.

Karo-Kari can be defined as acts of murder, in which a woman is killed for her actual or perceived immoral behavior. Such "immoral behavior" may take the form of alleged marital infidelity, refusal to submit to an arranged marriage, demanding a divorce, perceived flirtatious behaviour and rape. Suspicion and accusations alone are many times enough to defile a family’s honor and therefore enough to warrant the killing of the woman.[1] According to women's rights advocates, the concepts of women as property and honor are so deeply entrenched in the social, political and economic fabric of Pakistan that the government, for the most part, ignores the daily occurrences of women being killed and maimed by their families.[2]

Most karo kari cases are committed by a close relative - father, brother, son, or husband of the woman. Often, the victims are the most vulnerable members of the family or community. In either case, if and when the case reaches a court of law, the victim's family may 'pardon' the murderer (who may well be one of them), or be pressurised to accept diyat ('blood-money') as compensation. The murderer then goes free. [3]

Once such a pardon has been secured, the state has no further writ on the matter. Although often the killers are relatives of the victim. Human rights agencies in Pakistan have repeatedly emphasized that women falling prey to karo-kari were usually those wanting to marry of their own will. In many cases, the victims held properties that the male members of their families did not wish to lose if the women chose to marry outside the family. More often than not, the karo-kari murder relates to inheritance problems, feud-settling or to get rid of the wife i.e. in order to remarry.[4]

Over 4,000 people have been murdered by this practice in Pakistan over the six years 1998-2004. Of the victims, almost 2,700 were women and just over 1,300 were men,; 3,451 cases came before the courts. The highest rate of the practice of Karo-kari were in Punjab, followed by the Sindh province. Lesser number of cases have also been reported in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and in Balochistan.[5] More recently in 2005, the average annual number of karo kari for the whole nation ran up to more than 10,000 per year. [6]

This pattern of murder has been resisted by Human Rights activists like Aitzaz Ahsan, Ayaz Latif Palijo, Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani and Shahnaz Bukhari.[7][8][9][10][11]

Karo-Kari is supposed to be prosecuted as ordinary murder, but in practice, police and prosecutors often ignore it.[12] Often a man must simply claim the killing was for his honor and he will go free. Nilofar Bakhtiar, advisor to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, stated that in 2003, as many as 1,261 women were murdered in honor killings.[13] On December 8, 2004, under international and domestic pressure, Pakistan enacted a law that made honor killings punishable by a prison term of seven years, or by the death penalty in the most extreme cases.[14] Women and human rights organizations were, however, wary of this law, as it stops short of outlawing the practice of allowing killers to buy their freedom by paying compensation to the victim's relatives. Seeing as in most cases, it is the victim's immediate relatives, who are the killers, inherently the new law is just eyewash. It did not alter the provisions, whereby the accused could negotiate pardon with the victim's family under the Islamic provisions. Former judge Nasira Javed Iqbal told IRIN the bill allowed close relatives of the deceased to escape punishment with ease.[15] In March 2005 the Pakistani parliament rejected a bill, which sought to strengthen the law against the practice of honor killing declaring it to be un-Islamic.[16] However, the bill was brought up again, and in November 2006, it passed.[17] However, it is doubtful that the law would actually help women in presence of the loopholes of the amendment.[18]

Every year in Pakistan hundreds of women of all ages and in all parts of the country, are reported killed in the name of honor.[19] Many more cases go unreported. Almost all go unpunished.[20] Although women and human rights organizations, activists and moderates have called for seriousness and implementation from the authorities when dealing with the issue of honor killings, these continue to be opposed by hardline religious and conservative opposition in parliament, who claim the traditions serve to protect society from moral transgression namely adultery and amendments or repeal are seen as unislamic.[21]

See also


  1. Ansar Burney Trust
  2. Yasmeen HassanThe Fate of Pakistani Women 1999-03-25
  3. Beena SarwarPakistan: No compromise on murder 2004-10-17
  4. "Pakistan rejects pro-women bill". BBC News. 2005-03-02. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  5. Felix, Qaiser (2004-07-22). "Honour killing and "karo kari" in Pakistan". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  6. "'Honour Killings' and the Law in Pakistan" by Sohail Warraich in Chapter 4 of "Honour, Crimes, paradigms, and violence against women" By Sara Hossain, and Lynn Welchman, Zed Books (November 10, 2005), ISBN 1842776274
  7. Raja Asghar Opposition presses karo-kari bill 2004-07-24
  8. Pakistan: Zina judgement quashed by court 2002-04-29
  9. Gul Nasreen Women on the legal front 2009-05-26
  10. Pakistan: Honour killing in Rise
  11. Uddalak Mukherjee There is no honour in killing 2006-06-29
  12. "Pakistan's honor killings enjoy high-level support". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  13. Masood, Salman (2004-10-27). "Pakistan Tries to Curb 'Honor Killings'". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  14. Shahid Qazi and Carol Grisanti Shahid Qazi; Carol Grisanti. "Honor Killings Persist in 'Man's World'". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  15. PAKISTAN: New "honour killing" law does not go far enough - rights groups
  16. "Pakistan rejects pro-women bill". BBC News. 2005-03-02. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  17. Yasin, Asim. "Pakistan's Senate Approve Women Protection Bill". OhmyNews. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  18. Justice (Retd) Muhammad Taqi Usmani "The Reality of ‘Women Protection Bill’". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  19. Pakistan's honor killings enjoy high-level support
  20. Honor Pakistan: Honour killings of women and girls
  21. MMA joins govt against bill


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