Tuesday, September 21, 1999 Published at 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
World: South Asia
Pakistan honour killings condemned
Violence against women is routine, the report says
By Islamabad correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones
The practice of honour killings in Pakistan has been highlighted and strongly condemned in a report by the human rights group, Amnesty International.
Hundreds of women die each year in Pakistan as a result of honour killings, according to the report.
Women also live in fear of torture and violence, their basic human rights ignored, says Amnesty.
The report says that women become the victims of honour killings for a variety of reasons.
Women, for example, seeking to make their own decision about who they will marry, can be accused of undermining family honour.
Women seeking divorce or women who have been raped are also at risk.
In some cases, murders are committed for other motives and dressed up as honour killings because the perpetrators believe the courts will take a lenient view.
But in practice, many judges do view honour killings leniently and few of those responsible for them serve long sentences. Indeed, few are ever prosecuted at all.
Amnesty says that wide-ranging legal reforms and public awareness campaigns are needed if the number of honour killings is to be reduced.
The issue has been prominent in Pakistan ever since Samia Sarwar, a young woman filing for a divorce, was killed in her lawyer's office earlier this year.
Eyewitnesses said that Samia's mother was in the office watching as her daughter was shot dead.
But no one has been charged with her murder and a resolution condemning her killing was defeated in Pakistan's Senate.