Pakistan: Pregnant Woman Beaten to Death for Choosing Her Own Husband
Sunday, June 1, 2014 2:10 PM

A 25-year old pregnant woman was beaten to death with bricks by nearly 20 members of her family near the high court in Lahore, Pakistan. The woman, Farzana Parveen, had angered her family by marrying a man without her parents’ consent. Ms. Parveen’s father said he killed her because “she had insulted all of our family.” The brutal killing happened in front of numerous onlookers as Ms. Parveen arrived at the Lahore court to testify that her husband had not coerced her into marriage or kidnapped her, as alleged by her family.

Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission estimates that nearly 900 women “were stabbed, shot, beaten or burned to death in honor killings in Pakistan in 2013, usually at the hands of close family” and often for marrying without parental consent. Such “black work” stems from entrenched tribal customs that sanction and encourage the violence to preserve family honor. Pakistan outlawed honor killings in 2004, but most perpetrators enjoy impunity due to provisions in Islamic law that allow payments of money in lieu of punishment, along with “poor police work and faulty prosecutions.”

Despite cultural tolerance of honor killing in the country, many in Pakistan were shocked by the highly public nature of Ms. Parveen’s death and the fact that no police or bystanders intervened. The Pakistani newspaper Dawn stated in an editorial, “Even in a country where violence against women is routine and ‘honor killings’ remain an appalling reality, the crime that occurred in Lahore on Tuesday was particularly horrific.” Several religious leaders in Pakistan recently called Ms. Parveen’s and other honor killings “un-Islamic” and “cruel,” and have organized a summit on June 5 to consider how to approach the issue.

Compiled from: Gillani, Waqar and Walsh, Declan, Pregnant Pakistani Woman is Beaten to Death by Her Family, The New York Times (May 27, 2014); Associated Press, Pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by family, The Guardian (May 28, 2014); Lewis, Renee, Faith leaders in Pakistan issue fatwa against 'un-Islamic' honor killings, Al-Jazeera America (June 1, 2014).