Pakistan honour killing
The funeral of a teenage girl from Lahore, who was allegedly burnt alive by her own mother for marrying a man without the consent of her family, has taken place this week.
17-year-old Zeenat Rafiq had been subjugated to severe torture, which resulted in her death.
She had been tied to a bed, doused with fuel and set alight on the morning of Wednesday 8th June; just days after the couple had acquired their marriage licence.
Zeenat’s mother, Perveen Bibi, reportedly made no attempt to hide her crime.
Witnesses from the low-income neighbourhood state where Zeenat was from said that her mother went out into the street, took off her shawl and starting beating herself, shouting and confessing: “People! I have killed my daughter for misbehaving and giving our family a bad name.”
The teenager had run away from her traditional Punjabi family home and married Hassan Khan – who is a Pashtun – on 29th May.
According to family members, Parveen had made it clear that she would not tolerate her daughter marrying a Pashtun.
Now the young grieving husband, Hassan Khan, said his wife had been duped into returning home.
In a television interview he said: “After living with me for four days following our marriage, her family contacted us and promised they would throw us a proper wedding party after eight days,” he said.
“Zeenat was unwilling to go back to her home and told me that she would be killed by her family, but later agreed when one of her Uncles guaranteed her safety.
“She didn’t want to go but my family then convinced her. How were we to know they would kill her like this?”
“After two days, she called me and said that her family had gone back on their word and asked me to come to get her, but I told her to wait for the promised eight days. Then she was killed.”
Lahore police have arrested Zeenat’s mother and said they were looking for her brother, who had recently flown in from Dubai.
Zeenat was laid to rest by her husband’s family before dawn on Thursday 9th June in Lahore. Police said none of her relatives came forward to claim her body.
This is the third so-called ‘honour killing’ in Pakistan in as many months, when women who go against conservative rules on marriage and love are fatally attacked.
This was a particularly rare example of the crime according to officials, as it was carried out by a woman.
The victim’s husband told reporters the two had been, ‘in love since [their] school days’ but the family had rejected several marriage proposals, forcing them to elope last month.
Sheikh Hammad, a local police official, said Parveen confessed to killing her daughter saying, ‘I don’t have any regrets’.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has reported that nearly 1,100 women were killed by relatives in Pakistan last year in so-called honour-killings. Many more cases go unreported.
Last week, 19-year-old Maria Sadaqat was tortured and burned by a group of people in a village near Murree for refusing a marriage proposal from the son of the owner of a school where she taught.
Police have also investigated the murder of a teenage girl who was burnt to death by village elders near Abbottabad because she helped a friend to elope.
The Punjab province, where the two latest attacks happened, passed a landmark law in February criminalising all forms of violence against women.
However, more than 30 religious groups threatened to protest if the law was not repealed.
On Twitter, people from across the world voiced their opinion on the tragedy.
Emel Yildiz said: “RIP Zeenat Rafiq, you didn’t deserve the death you received and I hope justice is served and this honour killing crap will one day be left behind.”
Tim Kentley Klay said: “May her death be a sign for change.”
And Faizan Lakhani commented: “Wish they can understand there’s no honour in honour killing.”