The trial court in Multan has given its verdict in the Qandeel Baloch murder case. Qandeel’s brother has been convicted in the case and sentenced to life in prison. Others including Mufti Abdul Qavi, Qandeel’s other two brothers, Aslam Shaheen and Arif have been acquitted in the case. This is a great precedent for honour killing cases, which started from the precedent of the trial court dismissing the plea of Qandeel’s parents to forgive the sons. The sensitivity of the case along with the investigation has taken three years for the social media sensation to get justice.

This precedent alone should serve as a standard for other cases of honour killings, which are quite rampant in Pakistan and highlight the shame and honour attached to one gender. The government needs to play an active part in addressing the mindset that allows the subjugation of women to persist and leaves them at the mercy of the male members of their families. At the same time, there is a need to identify the loopholes in the legal structure that do not allow the punishment of people who incite violence. Digital spaces, while providing connectivity, have also made it a very harmful space where mob mentality can take over and endanger people’s lives. There should be a strict policy to monitor and penalise such acts before they result in the loss of lives.

The verdict is certainly a step in the right direction. It is a precedent for all those who will engage in such criminal acts and make Pakistan a dangerous place for women. It is also a reminder for the current government to invest in women-specific initiatives because the gender parity in Pakistan is alarming and despite development, it pushes the same social constructs and reality, limiting the growth of half of the population.