PAKISTAN: “It was her destiny to die this way…..” 

“It was in her fate to die this way”, these shameful words were said by a mother after she threw acid on her own daughter. These are the words used commonly by many families in Pakistani society in order to justify their actions and take shelter in this orthodox society.

This incident took place in the remote area of the southern district of Kotli, Pakistani Kashmir. Anusha (the victim) was first beaten by her parents and after that her father, Muhammad Zafar, with the help of his wife, Zaheen, poured acid over her body. They did not take her to hospital until the following morning by which time she had suffered acid burns over 60% of her body.

Anusha’s ‘crime’ was that she turned to look at a boy twice who passed by on a motorbike after her father had forbidden her to do so. He told her that it was wrong and that people would talk about them. In their eyes she would disgrace their name.

Zaheen, Anusha’s mother admitted the act and said that her daughter cried out, “‘I didn’t do it on purpose. I won’t look again’. But by then I had already thrown the acid. It was her destiny to die this way…..”.

This case came to notice when the victim’s elder sister saw that the face of the deceased was covered during the funeral, which was strange as according to Kashmiri Muslim society they reveal the face during the funeral. The elder sister became suspicious and notified the police.

For further information please see: Pakistan Parents Say They Murdered Daughter In ‘Honor Killing’ Because She Looked At A Boy

The police subsequently arrested and jailed the couple. Who will win-law or destiny? In orthodox society the destiny will be helpful for getting release as it was the destiny of perpetrators.

This is not an isolated case. Indeed, this type of cases is very common in the rural parts of Pakistani society and has been happening for decades. The perpetrators commonly receive leniency under the shelter of religious and tribal practices as it happened in Kohistan girls’ case. People use the name of Islam and take advantage of Shariah terminology which helps them to get impunity. Also destiny in the conservative society is largely against women and shows them as poor and inferior creatures than the dominating males where being woman is a big taboo itself.

The same cliché was applied in the case of Murder of Farah Dogar, the daughter of the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar was allegedly killed by her own father because she had a romantic liaison with Zeshaan whom she wanted to marry. It was from one of Farah’s friends, daughter of a media tycoon. Her message was brief. The couple was caught while trying to board a flight. Their names had been put on Exit Control List. Farrah was killed by the hands of her father two hours after capture, while Zeeshan has been confined to the darkest corners of the infamous jail. Zeeshan’s family members have been threatened with death and President Asif Ali Zardari, who had first helped his old friend by putting the names of the innocent couple on the Exit Control List has now put his whole might behind imposing a total media blackout in Pakistan. (World Press).

No criminal investigation has yet started because “it was her destiny to die this way..”.

In another case which occurred in Rahmiyar Khan in December 2012, Amna (18) was hanged to death by her brother because she had a love affair with a man named Siraj whom she chose to marry. The brother was declared innocent by his tribal court, the Jirga, as he killed his sister for the honor. The tribal elders said she died because;

“it was her destiny to die this way…..”

A woman marrying of her own choice is mostly impossible in Pakistan. The case of Nargis, the wife of Ehtisham whom she married and had two children is another example. She was murdered by her brother and other relatives because Ehtisham was a taxi driver which was considered a dishonor to the family. She has also faced her destiny.

Killings in the name of honour are generally taken as religious and tribal traditions. Such cases take place in many Asian and European countries, especially in migrant families who have shifted to western countries. This ancient tradition is centuries old and whenever the question of honor of the family comes the parents use this tradition to prove that they did according to their ‘Islamic dictates’;
“as if God’s willing”.

Every day more than one case happens and goes unreported. The victims are killed with axes, buried alive, shot, burned with acid or oil or their body parts like their noses and lips are cut off. The nose is considered a sign of respect in Pakistani societies so the cutting of the nose indicates that the victim is not a respectable person in the eyes of the society. Similarly, burning the face with acid makes the victim ugly so that they become unacceptable in the society and not able to live a normal life.

According to the report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) more than 900 cases of honor killings took place in 2012 and there is an increment of 600 to 900 each year.

Police officers and judges of the lower judiciary mostly support the act of honour killing. Many suspected cases never reach courts and these have usually been dealt with by tribal courts or by the families themselves who decide on the punishment to be met out to the victims. When the cases do reach the courts they rarely see justice because of poor law enforcement as the police and judiciary seldom take action against the perpetrators. In Pakistani law there is no enforcement against the alleged killer and the state authorities refer to honour killings as cases of domestic violence. Generally the people do not report cases due to gender bias in law.

Nevertheless, the government of Pakistan has taken few encouraging steps through legislation in terms of passing the anti-women practices bill but still the implementation of these laws is a matter of grave concerns. The state has to provide security to the victims that are harassed by the perpetrators, they have to provide legal access to the victims, and with the help of civil society and non-governmental organisations they have to launch awareness campaigns on the seriousness of the issue. This is vitally important that the people, particularly the women to realise their rights and they have to feel free to knock on the doors of the courts. And Must reject the notion of “Fate”

About the Author: Nida Paras is working on the youth issues in Pakistan and is office bearer of Progressive Youth Forum, she can be reached at;