It’s hard to imagine that in the year 2014 a woman would be stoned to death for dishonoring her family, but that is exactly what happened to a 25-year-old pregnant newlywed on Tuesday. According to Reuters the woman was murdered in what’s known as an “honor killing” after she married the man she loved and not her chosen fiancé.
What makes this story more disturbing is who threw the stones, in this case bricks, at Farzana Iqbal. The young, pregnant woman was attacked as she waited for the High Court in Lahore to open. Reuters reported approximately twelve men took part in the onslaught, including Iqbal’s father, two brothers and former fiancé. The newlywed who married for love sustained serious head injuries and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. All of the suspected attackers fled, except her dad, who confessed to killing his daughter and stated, “It was a matter of honor.”
Honor killings are still a common form of punishment in Pakistan, with somewhat of 1,000 yearly murders committed by family members each year, staggering statistics via AF.org, the Aurat Foundation, a Pakistani women’s rights group. However, the actual numbers could be dramatically higher as the organization accumulates data through newspaper accounts and the government doesn’t keep valid records of the crimes. Why? Pakistani law allots for the victim’s family to forgive the killer, which is an elected member of the family. If the murderer or murderers are caught, Wasim Wagha of AF says Pakistani law is so flawed that “few cases make it to court, and those that do take years to be heard.”
Iqbal had been betrothed to her cousin, but instead married another for love. The young woman was at the High Court to defend her new husband after the family waged kidnapping charges against him. She waited to declare she married him of her “own free will,” however was killed before she could be heard.