this photograph taken on October 17, 2017, shows Wasim (R), brother of slain social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch and his cousin, who are accused of killing her, are escorted by policeman as they arrive at a local court in Multan. AFP / SS MIRZA
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A year since new laws came into force aimed at stemming the flow of "honor killings," scores of young women in deeply conservative Pakistan are still being murdered by relatives for bringing shame on their family.At least 280 such murders were recorded by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan from October 2016 to June of this year -- a figure believed to be underestimated and incomplete.That means the culprits can simply claim another motive and still be pardoned, said Dr. Farzana Bari, a widely-respected activist and head of the Gender Studies Department at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University.They can do so under Pakistan's Qisas (blood money) and Diyat (retribution) law, which allows them to seek forgiveness from a victim's relatives -- a particularly convenient means of escape in honor cases.The roots of "honor" killings lie in tribal social norms which remain prevalent across South Asia and dictate the behavior of women in particular.Women have been shot, stabbed, stoned, set alight and strangled for bringing "shame" on their families for everything from refusing marriage proposals to wedding the "wrong" man and helping friends elope.
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