UN expert urges Pakistan, Afghanistan to ensure justice for recent killing of women


An independent United Nations human rights expert has spoken out against the recent killing of women in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and called on the two countries’ Governments to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The failure of States to guarantee women’s right to a life free from violence allows for a continuum of violence which can end in their death,” said Rashida Manjoo, the expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council with investigating and reporting on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

She referred to the recent killing of Fareeda Afridi, a human rights defender in Pakistan, and of Hanifa Safi, a provincial head of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan, as well as the public execution of Najiba, a woman accused of adultery in Afghanistan.

“Whether labelled murder, homicide, femicide, feminicide, or ‘honour’ killings, these manifestations of violence are culturally and socially embedded, and continue to be accepted, tolerated or justified – with impunity as the norm,” the expert said.

She urged both the Pakistani and the Afghan Governments to carry out prompt and impartial investigations into the killings and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

“The killing of women is indeed a State crime when tolerated by public institutions and officials – when they are unable to prevent, protect and guarantee the lives of women, who have consequently experienced multiple forms of discrimination and violence throughout their lifetime,” Ms. Manjoo said.

“It is crucial to acknowledge that these are not isolated incidents that arise suddenly and unexpectedly, but are rather the extreme manifestation of pre-existing forms of violence experienced by women everywhere,” she stressed. “However, women suffering multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination face a greater risk of experiencing such violence.”

In her 2012 report to the Council, Ms. Manjoo underscored that States should adopt a holistic approach to addressing the gender-related killings of women.

To that end, she recommended ensuring effective investigations, prosecution and sanctions; guaranteeing access to adequate and effective judicial remedies; treating women victims and their relatives with respect and dignity; and ensuring comprehensive reparations to victims and their relatives, among other measures.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.