LAHORE - A 25-year-old woman was stoned to death by her family outside Lahore High Court Tuesday morning in the name of ‘honour’ for marrying the man she loved.
Farzana Iqbal was waiting outside the court for the commencement of the proceedings to seek quashment of an FIR against her husband when a dozen members of her family attacked her with bricks. As a result, she died on the spot in presence of a number of police officials and security personnel deployed outside the office of Punjab advocate general.
All the attackers except Farzana’s father escaped from the scene. In a statement recorded to the police, he said he had killed her to protect the family’s ‘honour’.
The witnesses said that her father, brothers and about 30 other relatives were on the prowl so that they could catch her before entering the court. As she reached Fane Road and was about to enter the premises of the court, her father and brothers took her aside and attacked her with bricks and stones, killing her on the spot.
Farzana married Muhammad Iqbal, a resident of Jaranwala, a few months ago and was three-months pregnant. According to police officers, she did not marry her cousin to whom she was engaged and chose another man against the wishes of her parents. Her father had got an FIR registered against her husband while Farzana had come to the court to prove that she had solemnised marriage to Iqbal with her own free will.
Some 28 to 30 people attacked her, senior investigator Rana Akhtar told AFP. “The brother first opened fire with a gun but missed. She tried to run away but fell down,” the investigator said. “The relatives caught her and then beat her to death with bricks.”
Mohammad Mushtaq, another police official, confirmed the incident. Mushtaq said police had opened an initial investigation following a complaint by Farzana’s husband Iqbal, who also has another wife.
Farzana’s lawyer Rao Mohammad Kharal told AFP: “Farzana was here to tell the court that she married of her own choice.”
Around 1,000 Pakistani women are killed every year by their families in honour killings, according to Pakistani rights group the Aurat Foundation.
The true figure is probably many times higher since the Aurat Foundation only compiles figures from newspaper reports. The government does not compile national statistics.
Campaigners say few cases come to court, and those that do can take years to be heard. No one tracks how many cases are successfully prosecuted.
Even those that do result in a conviction may end with the killers walking free. Pakistani law allows a victim’s family to forgive their killer.
But in honour killings, most of the time the women’s killers are her family, said Wasim Wagha of the Aurat Foundation. The law allows them to nominate someone to do the murder, then forgive him.
“This is a huge flaw in the law,” he said. “We are really struggling on this issue.”
Last year 869 women died in so-called “honour killings” according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. “Such crimes persisted because of the impunity enjoyed by the killers,” the commission said in a report, noting that Pakistan’s blood-money laws allow kin to forgive perpetrators and that most killers were members of the victim’s family.