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Pakistan stiffens penalty for ‘honor’ killings

Pakistan passed long-awaited legislation Thursday closing a loophole that allowed people who killed for “honor” to walk free, three months after the murder of a social media star by her brother sparked international revulsion.

The legislation, passed unanimously by the National Assembly, mandates life imprisonment even if the victim’s relatives forgive the murderer. The assembly also passed a bill boosting the punishments for some rape offences, mandating DNA testing and making the rape of a minor or the disabled punishable by life imprisonment or death.

Women have long fought for their rights in Pakistan, and so-called “honor” killings claim the lives of hundreds each year. Rape conviction rates are close to zero percent, largely due to the law’s reliance on circumstantial evidence and a lack of forensic testing. (AFP)