Pakistani model and self-proclaimed social media sensation, Qandeel Baloch met her fate on Saturday when she was strangulated to death by her brother at her Multan residence.
Baloch’s death has been all over Pakistani media as soon as it broke out. Though the main reason behind Baloch’s death getting such coverage is probably her choice of public image, her murder also reflects of a deep menace affecting the Pakistani society — honour killing.
The murder, though still under investigation, amid reports of the model getting continuous threats from her brother for posting videos and pictures on social media and for the sheer frequency of such incidents in the country, is widely being hailed as an act of honour killing.
But even if this is a case of ‘honour killing’, Qandeel’s brother can still escape any sort of punishment and here’s why.
Pakistan’s legal system has no law enforcing punishment in case of ‘honour killing’, if the accused can get a pardon from the family. And since the assailant is, more often than not, a blood-relative of the woman, these pardons are easy to obtain after which the state has absolutely no say in the matter.
The law, which is essentially is the Islamic Sharia law of Diyat, tips the balance in favor of the men attacking women as a result of which several hundred lives are lost every year. Women are callously killed in the name of honour if they go against the will of their families in any way, or even if there’s suspicion suggesting so.
The easily obtainable impunity has resulted in Pakistani women suffering unspeakable acts of abuse at the hands of male members of the family. Women are shot dead, burned alive, mutilated everyday in the name of honour and Pakistan’s legal system conveniently looks the other way.
Any attempts to change the law have been blatantly shot down. Bills introduced in the Parliament proposing to strengthen the Pakistani Penal Code and curb ‘honour killings’ have been dismissed as “un-islamic” by a majority in favor of respecting the society’s “cultural traditions”.
According to a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 869 women were killed in the name of honour in 2013 alone. At least 943 in 2011, including 93 minors. In 2010, 791 women were killed.
The void left by the state is filled by tribes and local elders who continue to encourage the sickening culture. Even in the face of rising demands of basic rights for women, Pakistan has openly abdicated itself from the responsibility of half of its citizens calling it a feature of a feudal society.
In all probability, Qandeel Baloch’s death is going to fall on deaf ears in her home nation but maybe its time that it changes.