Honor Killing, Pakistani Style
anjaan last edited by anjaan
Without any speculation!
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Parveen Rafiq closed her hands around the neck of her youngest daughter, Zeenat, and squeezed and squeezed until the girl was almost dead.
Then, in the tiny apartment where the family lived, she doused the 18-year-old with kerosene and set her on fire.
Neighbors saw the smoke and rushed to the home. Someone inside, apparently one of Rafiq's daughters-in-law, was screaming, "Help her! Help!"
But the door was bolted from within. Moments later, they heard Rafiq scream from her rooftop: "I have killed my daughter. I have saved my honor. She will never shame me again."
Zeenat's crime was marrying a childhood friend she loved, defying her widowed mother's pressure for an arranged marriage and, in the mind of her mother and many of her neighbors, tarnishing her family's honor.
Her macabre death on June 8 in the eastern city of Lahore was the latest in a series of increasingly gruesome "honor killings" in Pakistan, a country with one of the highest rates of such killings in the world.
In one case, a mother slit the throat of her pregnant daughter who had married a man she loved. In yet another a jilted suitor doused a teenage girl with kerosene and set her on fire.
In the city of Abbottabad, a teenage girl was tortured, injected with poison and then strapped to the seat of a vehicle, doused with gasoline and set on fire. Her crime was helping a friend elope.
A jirga, or council of local elders, ordered her killing and dictated the manner of her death. The vehicle was parked in a public place, outside a bus stop as a message to others.
The brutality and rapid succession of killings horrified many Pakistanis. The numbers of such killings have climbed in lockstep with their sometimes-public spectacle. Last year, three people a day were killed in "honor" crimes in Pakistan: a total of 1,096 women and 88 men, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. In 2014, the number was 1,005 women, including 82 children, up from 869 women killed a year earlier. The true numbers are believed to be higher, with many cases going unreported, activists say.
Some human rights and women's rights activists believe honor killings have been inching up and showing greater brutality as the older generation tries to dig in against creeping change. Over the years, more women have been going to school and working outside the home, even among lower and lower middle class, and use of social media has helped women raise their voices.
"The old order of misogyny and extremism is falling apart, is really crumbling," says Marvi Sermid, a political commentator and women's rights activist. Conservative Muslim clerics are furious over the creeping change and are fighting back with regressive changes targeting women, she said.
The changes are a serious challenge to the status quo in Pakistan, where centuries of tradition and culture have tied the idea of a woman as a pristine and untouched commodity to a family's honor. Deeply conservative traditions have been further strengthened by decades of governments and military dictators who have often curried the support of religious hard-liners with legislation enshrining the old ways.
But more than 70 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people are under 30, and among the younger, more tech-savvy generation, some are vocally challenging the traditions of their elders to an unprecedented degree.
Salman Akram Raja, a lawyer, said the young are pushing traditional boundaries even if the state is lagging behind and even if the conservative old guard is lashing back.
"I don't think this archaic order will win," Raja said. "But it is going to go down violently."
For months, neighbors said, Zeenat's mother had complained about her two elder daughters, who had married men of their own choice.
Zeenat was her last chance to save her honor. She planned an arranged marriage for Zeenat with a member of their own social caste, the Rajput, which traces its origin to the Indian subcontinent and is said to be descended from kings.
But Zeenat had her heart set on a young motorcycle mechanic named Hassan Khan.
They had met when she was 12 and he was 14 and quickly became playmates. They lived about two blocks apart in Changi Amar Sadhu, a crowded Lahore shantytown where electrical wires and phone lines crisscross overhead in a crazy jumble that obscures the sky. As they grew older, friendship became romance.