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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
'Honour killings' law tightened
The alleged victims: the teenager on the left and her sister-in-law.
Women alleged to have been raped are at risk
Pakistan's National Assembly has passed a law introducing the death penalty as the maximum punishment in extreme cases of so-called honour killings.

The law brings in stiffer penalties for all cases where men kill female relatives for a perceived sleight on their family or tribal honour.

Hundreds of women are killed in this way every year in Pakistan.

Alleged misdemeanours include adultery, marrying without the family's consent, pre-marital sex or having been raped.

It's a weak law because it does not fully cover the crime - but it is a positive step
Women rights activist Majida Razvi
Many of the crimes, mostly in rural, tribal areas, go unpunished.

Some women's rights organisations criticised the new law, saying it did not do enough to protect women.

They said it had not outlawed the practice of killers being able to buy their freedom by paying compensation to the victim's relatives.

"While the room for out of court settlements remains, women will continue to be killed and murderers will go free," Kamila Hyat, a director at Pakistan's Human Rights Commission, told Reuters news agency.

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