The word Namoos is an Arabic word meaning “law”, “honor” or “customs.” However in Pashtoon society Namoos is used in its contextual meaning to mean “chastity.” The Namoos of man essentially depends on the Namoos of woman whether she is his wife, sister, mother, or daughter. In Pashtoon society it is duty of a man to protect the Namoos of his family women and protect them from any sexual harm. This has a lot to do with why Pashtoon society has very strict rules and customs in the form of Parda (seclusion), Tor, Nang and Ghairat, and why the role of women in the society has been kept to a minimum compared to what one sees in Western society or even other parts of Pakistan. This is also a reason why the majority of the marriages in Pashtoon society are arranged marriages where the parents decide when and to who a girl will be married.
Pashtoon society has very strict rules and regulations, and an act that is considered decent in other parts of the world is considered against the Namoos of all Pashtoons. For example if a woman wears very tight clothes, this is considered an act against the Namoos of the Pashtoon. Moreover as it has been pointed out in the post “the role of woman in Pashtoon society” that Pashtoons historically celebrate the birth of boys, however the birth of girl especially if it is the first child is considered against the Namoos of Pashtoon. A man has full rights to safeguard the Namoos of his family, and to this end, has full control over the female family members. Depending on the extent of one’s Namoos lost in the eyes of the community, even very severe punishments such as forced abortion, even death, are considered options.
The punishment of death for infidelity, or “honor killing,” emerges from the concept of Namoos, and a woman can be put to death if family members think that she has had an unlawful relation with a male. According to the latest figure of “Akhwan-e-Khwateen” a local NGO working for the rights of Pashtoon women in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, there have been 832 honor killings reported in the province in the last eight months, and according to the society this represents a decrease of almost 28% compared to the honor killings reported last year. Many NGOs are working in the country to stop the instances of honor killing in the society, and these efforts can be seen in the clear decrease in honor killings reported in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.