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banner Monday, 4 September, 2000, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Licence To Kill
samia dead
Samia was murdered because she dared to break with tradition

Winner of the RTS 2001 (Best TV journalism).

This programme was first broadcast on Saturday 25th March 2000. The feature below accompanied the original broadcast.


Licence to Kill is the follow-up to last year's award-winning documentary, Murder in Purdah, on the killing of women in Pakistan.

While Murder in Purdah showed how casually women are killed in Pakistan, Licence to Kill shows how state institutions endorse such killings and allow the killers to escape without punishment.

The Senate, the law-courts, the Mosques and the villages conspire to imprison women, trade them in marriage and allow their murder.

Zarsheed killed his mother
Zarsheed, a 19 year old, shot his mother - just yards from where he's playing cricket near the graveyard. The village was gossiping about her constant trips to market so the elders told him to kill her. She'd "dishonoured" the family. He had no choice, he says. She just wouldn't listen.

There is also the case of Samia Sarwar the daughter of a wealthy businessman and Head of the Peshawar Chamber of Commerce, another who wouldn't listen.
Samia's father argues his innocence
Samia's father who protests his innocence
When she sought a divorce from her violent husband she was gunned down in the office of her lawyer Hina Jilani. The killer was taken there by her own mother.

A resolution was tabled in Pakistan's Senate, condemning her murder, honour killings and violence against women. It failed. Last August, of the 87 Senators in the upper house of Pakistan's parliament only four voted for the motion and condemned the killing of women.

women protest
women protest at lack of government action
Hina Jilani, Pakistan's leading Human Rights lawyer claims this was the blackest day in the history of Pakistan. It made a woman's right to life, guaranteed in the constitution, meaningless.

Those who voted against the resolution argue honour killings are a deterrent to sexual immorality an effective means of social control.

This is the view of former Senator Haji Rehman, a tribal chief who has opened an Islamic school for boys where they learn to recite the Qur'an in Arabic - a language they don't understand. In this society such children grow up knowing only those aspects of Islam which confirm their own feudal values.

Many believe Islam gives men the right to kill rebellious women. Pakistan's leading Islamic scholar Dr Mahmood Ahmed Ghazi, a member of Pakistan's current Government doesn't condone such killings but he believes this is a measure of the strength of feeling in Pakistan about sexual morality.

For many, he explains, sexual immorality is a more heinous crime than murder. If a wife violates the rules on morality, he tells Correspondent, Islam gives him the right to beat her.

Changes in the law on murder have also enabled men to kill women with impunity.

The Pakistan Penal Code, amended in 1990 to embrace Islamic principles, has made it easier for those who kill women to get away with it.
Islamic principles are selectively applied

The heir of any murder victim can forgive the killer and stop a prosecution. Laws are open to abuse allowing family members to conspire to kill, then to forgive and so walk free.

Asif shot his sister. She too had dishonoured the family. She'd married without permission so he lured her to a railway line and ended her life. He too has been "forgiven" under Islamic law and is free.

And there's Shamim, a mother of four, falsely accused of adultery by her husband's brothers and murdered in her bed where she slept. Her throat was slit. Two of her killers were policemen.

They say they killed her for the family's "honour", something they claim Islam and the law permit. This was later proved to be a lie. Each of these murders has gone unpunished because the victims are women.

Producer: Fiona Lloyd-Davies

Reporter: Olenka Frenkiel

Series Producer: Farrah Durrani

Editor: Fiona Murch

Since this film was transmitted the ruling military leader of Pakistan, Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, has pledged to outlaw 'honour killings'. A permanent independent commission to protect women's rights has also been promised.

Licence to Kill is the follow up to Murder in Purdah, shown in 1999. Murder in Purdah won the Peabody award for journalism, the George Polk Award for television , the John Hopkins University Award and a New York TV medal. It will also be shown at Cannes Film Festival on May 19th.

Both films were selected for cinema screening at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London March 2000.

Samia defies her father's wishes and elopes with her new love

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