LAHORE - Three young women in one family were shot dead by male relatives who suspected them of having ‘illicit relations’ with other men, police in Faisalabad said Wednesday.

The women , aged 22, 28 and 29, all lived in the same house in Faisalabad .

“The men suspected that the three women had illicit relations with other men and shot them in the chest and face and fled after the murders,” police investigator Mohammad Ayub told AFP.

Police have launched a manhunt, he said, added that it appeared to be a case of ‘honour killings’. Officials at the local police station confirmed the account.

Last week a teenage girl in Abbottabad district was strangled and her body set ablaze after a Jirga (village council) ruled she must die for helping a friend to elope, sparking anger from rights activists.

Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in country each year on the pretext of defending family “honour”.

Pakistan amended its criminal code in 2005 to prevent men who kill female relatives escaping punishment by pardoning themselves as an “heir” of the victim.

But it is left to a judge’s discretion to decide whether to impose a prison sentence when other relatives of the victim forgive the killer - a loophole which critics say is still exploited.

“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” - a film telling the story of a rare survivor of an attempted honour killing - won the Academy Award for best documentary short in February.

Publicity surrounding the film prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to vow to eradicate the “evil” of honour killings, but no fresh legislation has been tabled since then.

GIRL RAPED, KILLED

Staff Reporter from Burewala adds: A self-claimed exorcist allegedly raped and tortured a girl to death in Chak56/12L here. Locals said a person, impersonated himself a exorcist alias Peer Jindwala, came to the village from Kikrarwala Kho Sandhlianwali about five days ago. 

A woman named Bhagan Bibi, wife of Muhammad Yaseen, took her 16-years-old sick daughter to him for spiritual remedy. The 'faith healer' claimed some paranormal influences on the girl and easily fooled her mother by asking her to take the girl away to his residence as the exorcism requires four days. He took the girl to his residence where he allegedly raped and tortured the girl for four days. On 9th May, he told girls' parents that she has died during exorcism because the paranormal powers broke her neck.