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Pakistan Toughens Penalties, Closes Loophole On 'Honor Killings'

Relatives comfort Hassan Khan, center, the husband of a teenage girl who was burnt alive by her mother, in Lahore, Pakistan, on June 8.

Pakistani lawmakers have passed a law that increases the penalty for so-called "honor killings" and closes a loophole that often allowed killers to go free.

The new law imposes a 25-year mandatory prison sentence against anyone convicted of killing "in the name of honor" and it no longer allows family members to forgive such killers.

The law allows forgiveness only when a so-called "honor" killer is sentenced to death.

But if killers who face the death penalty are forgiven by relatives, they still must serve 25 years in prison.

The legislation was passed on October 6 after a four-hour debate in a joint session of the national parliament.

Some of the loudest opposition came from hard-line Islamist lawmakers.

They argued that Pakistan's Islamic Ideology Council, a body of conservative Muslim clerics, should offer their views before the bill becomes law.

But supporters of the bill refused, saying the council routinely vetoes legislation aimed at protecting women.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and UPI