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UN rights chief urges action following Pakistan 'honor killing'

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Wednesday condemned [press release] the killing of a 25-year-old pregnant woman who was stoned to death in a so-called "honor killing." Farzana Iqbal was killed by her family outside of a Pakistani court in the city of Lahore because she had chosen to marry the man whom she loved. Such killings are common in Pakistan, as Pakistanis believe that it is dishonorable for a woman to fall in love and choose her own husband. Last year nearly 900 women were killed [report, PDF] in such a manner in Pakistan, and that number may be even higher as many such deaths are reported as accidents. Pillay also urged the government to do "much more" in preventing such killings:

The Pakistani Government must take urgent and strong measures to put an end to the continuous stream of so-called "honour killings" and other forms of violence against women. ... They must also make a much greater effort to protect women like Farzana Parveen. The fact that she was killed on her way to court, shows a serious failure by the State to provide security for someone who—given how common such killings are in Pakistan—was obviously at risk.
According to Pillay, "it is clearly both the State's and the judiciary's responsibility to work seriously to deter such crimes, and ensure that people who commit them are brought to justice."

Violence against women is currently a prevalent issue around the world. In April UN rights expert Rashida Manjoo reported [JURIST report] that despite many positive developments implemented by the UK government to combat and appropriately respond to violence against women, it still remains a prevalent issue that requires improved measures by the government. In January Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] the Canadian government to institute an independent national inquiry into violence against women in the country. In December Manjoo commended recent steps taken by Azerbaijan officials to adopt legal measures in protection of women's rights, but urged [JURIST report] authorities to better implement these policies. In October the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recommended a rule [JURIST report] surrounding the obligations states owe to women during and after conflict.

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