26-year-old Qandeel Baloch, known as “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian” for her provocative social media posts and online appearances, was strangled to death by her brother last night in what’s being calling an “honor killing”:
“The brother was also there last night and the family told us he strangled her to death,” Azhar Akram, City Police Officer (CPO) Multan told AFP, confirming that officials suspected an honour killing.
“Qandeel’s brothers had asked her to quit modelling,” family sources said.
Her brother had been threatening her about uploading pictures and videos on social media, he added.
That brother, Waseem Ahmed Azeem, is currently on the run.
Just to state the obvious, there’s nothing “honorable” about this. The incident underscores just how perilous it is for women in countries where a fundamentalist strain of Islam haunts the culture. If you dare to rebel by taking alluring pictures, questioning your place in society, or (gasp) marrying someone you love without parental approval, you may be writing your own death sentence.
Unless religious and government leaders begin adequately punishing those who commit these murders, and defending women who choose their own paths, these killings won’t stop.
The New York Times reports just how difficult that is:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to strengthen laws intended to prevent such killings, but critics say no concrete steps have been taken yet.
In most cases, the honor killings take place within the family, said Syeda Sughra Imam, a former senator from Punjab who has pushed for legislation against the practice.
“The accused and the complainant are from the same family and they forgive each other,” Ms Imam said. “No one is ever prosecuted.”
Ms. Imam’s proposed legislation calls for eliminating a “forgiveness clause” in Pakistani law that allows families to reach a financial settlement or to forgive the killer.
Good idea. But a long way to go to make it a reality.
(Screenshot via BBC)