(RNS) — As a crowd watched outside a courthouse, the family of a pregnant Pakistani woman beat her to death May 27 because she married the man she loved instead of her cousin.
The 25-year-old woman’s father, brother and spurned fiancé were among about a dozen male relatives who used bricks and clubs in the so-called honor killing of Farzana Parveen for disobeying her family’s wishes. She suffered massive head injuries and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Lahore police charged her father, Mohammad Azeem, with murder, and the others were being sought. Azeem told police he helped kill his daughter because she had shamed the family.
“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” police investigator Rana Mujahid quoted him as saying.
Parveen was attacked as she and her husband, Mohammad Iqbal, arrived at the gates of the Lahore High Court. They went there to dispute charges brought by her father that Iqbal had kidnapped Parveen, who had been engaged to her cousin for several years.
Iqbal, 45, was a widower with five children when he began seeing Parveen, he told the Associated Press.
“We were in love,” he said.
Iqbal alleged her family wanted to extort money from him before following through with the arranged marriage to her cousin.
Every year, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Pakistani women are killed by their families for actual or imagined adultery or premarital sex. Public stoning is rare, however.
Last month, the private Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that 869 women were victims of honor killings in 2013.
Another Pakistani rights group, the Aurat Foundation, estimates that about 1,000 Pakistani women are killed each year by their families. Reuters writes that the “true figure is probably many times higher” because the census is based only on newspaper accounts of honor killings.
The government does not compile such statistics or track the outcome of prosecutions. Convicted killers are sometimes released, because the law allows a family to forgive the killer.
A News Pakistan writer said an honor killing “is most probably the easiest way of killing woman and avoid the capital punishment at the same time.”
The Koran, the Muslim holy book, does not approve of honor killings or other extrajudicial murder, the website Questions About Islam says.
“There is absolutely no justification in Islam for ‘honour killing’ of women or men. Those who commit these crimes can expect hellfire as their punishment, in addition to the wrath and anger of God. … These types of killings are quite simply murder crimes, and should be prosecuted as such. …
“Therefore, although Islam does prescribe 100 lashes for fornication [sexual relations between unmarried people], and death by stoning for adultery [married people who have sexual relations outside of marriage], these punishments are not really meant to be performed as much as they are meant to make these crimes hated in the eyes of the society in order to minimize their occurrence.”
Last June, a mother and her two daughters in northern Pakistan were shot dead by a male relative who believed they had shamed the family because a video showed the young women laughing outside their home.
— Michael Winter
© 2014 USA Today. Used with permission.
Posted May 29, 2014