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Death sentence

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DEMONSTRATION: Activists have gathered following Farzana’s death to protest ‘honour killings’ in Pakistan

DEMONSTRATION: Activists have gathered following Farzana’s death to protest ‘honour killings’ in Pakistan.

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.

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Death sentence upheld

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After months of protest for the decision to be upheld, a New Delhi Court ruled on Thursday that four men, convicted for the gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in 2012, would face the death penalty.

The men had been sentenced back in September by a special ‘fast track court’ and despite appeals from the guilty parties; the High Court confirmed the sentence would stand, describing the case as ‘one of the rarest of rare cases that warranted the death penalty’.

The 23-year-old medical student and a friend were returning home from a movie when the men tricked them into boarding a bus they were joy-riding. They beat the friend into submission, held the woman down and took turns raping her. They also penetrated her with a rod, causing severe internal injuries that led to her death two weeks after the December 2012 attack.

The brutality of the crime unleashed a wave of public anger over the treatment of Indian women and a long-unspoken epidemic of sexual violence in the country.

ANGRY: People across India took to the streets after the infamous incident in 2012, with many demanding the death penalty and improved safety in the country for women

ANGRY: People across India took to the streets after the infamous incident in 2012, with many demanding the death penalty and improved safety in the country for women

All six men involved in the attack were arrested soon after the attack.

Police say one of the men hanged himself in prison. Another man — an 18-year-old who was a juvenile at the time of the attack — was convicted and ordered to serve three years in a reform home.

A defense lawyer said the men would appeal Thursday's decision in the Supreme Court. “These men have been falsely implicated,” A. P. Singh, a lawyer who has represented the four men at various times during the trial, told reporters.

The nationwide outcry following the gang rape led the federal government to rush legislation increasing prison terms for rapists and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women.

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