Pakistani family sentenced to death after honour killing
Four members of the same family have been sentenced to death by a Pakistan Court last week after they brutally killed one of their pregnant relatives because she married the ‘wrong man’.
25-year-old Farzana Iqbal was bludgeoned to death in a busy public street in May earlier this year in an incident which briefly brought much needed attention to the nation’s epidemic of violence against women.
Farzana’s father, brother, cousin and another relative were all handed death sentences on Wednesday 19th November and ordered to pay a fine of $1,000. Another cousin was also fined the same amount but handed a 10 year term in prison.
Due to a current suspension on executions in Pakistan, the death row sentence will effectively mean life behind bars until the moratorium is lifted yet defence lawyer, Mansoor Afridi, says all five relatives plan to appeal their sentencing.
Afridi added that he believed the verdict had only been given due to the wide coverage of the case making it ‘a decision based on sensationalism’.
Women are murdered every day in Pakistan for perceived slights against conservative social traditions. The crime is so common it rarely rates more than a paragraph in newspapers.
But Farzana’s case attracted attention because it took place on a busy street outside the provincial High Court where she had gone to seek protection.
Her family beat her to death with bricks while her husband, Muhammed Iqbal, begged nearby police for help. They did not intervene.
In a somewhat bizarre twist, Iqbal has also admitted that he killed his previous wife so he could marry Farzana but escaped the death penalty because he was forgiven by the woman’s son – a current law in Pakistan says that if the next of kin does forgive the killer then murderers can escape without punishment.
In 2013, 869 cases of so-called ‘honour killings’ were reported in the media, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. The true figure is likely to be much higher since many cases go unreported.