'So-called' honour based violence ends in death outside courtroom for Pakistan woman

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Crowds around Farzana Parveen
A crowd of men circle around the dead body (in lower center of picture) of honour violence victim Farzana Parveen on Tuesday May 27, 2014. Just left of her body her husband Mohammad Iqbal can be seen sitting on the ground with blood on his face.  After Farzana and her husband attempted to enter the Lahore high court building to testify against erroneous charges made against Iqbal by Faranza’s family, Farzana died from lethal wounds she received from one of her brothers who prevented her from entering the courtroom. The UN has condemned the violence saying the police should have protected the married couple who were standing up to Faranza’s relatives. Farnaza was three months pregnant at the time of her murder. Image: Dazebao News

Story update May 30, 2014: Lahore police have released information saying that honour violence victim Farzana Parveen’s husband, Mohammad Iqbal, had been arrested in October 2009 for killing his first wife Ayesha Bibi before he married Farzana. Iqbal also said, according to AFP news, in a phone conversation that he killed his wife because he was in love with Farzana. This puts a complicated twist on a legal honour violence case that will be continuing inside Pakistan.

(WNN) Lahore, PAKISTAN, SOUTHERN ASIA: A 25-year-old Pakistani woman and mother-to-be, Farzana Parveen, was killed in a public honour killing attack as over 40 people looked on as they stood watching the violence during daylight hours outside the high court building in Lahore, Pakistan on Tuesday. The attack took place as Farzana attempted to enter the court building with her husband to testify against erroneous claims made against her husband by her family.

Married to what her family considered to be ‘the wrong man’, Farzana faced mortal danger as she rejected an arranged marriage and married the man she said she loved. In a region where arranged marriages are still common, ‘so-called’ honour violence is also all too common, say women advocates in the region.

She was three months pregnant when she died at the hands of one of her brothers, after gunfire was shot in the direction of the couple and Farzana fell to the ground as she began running. After falling on the ground one of her brothers caught up with Farzana and then pelted her with nearby bricks from a construction site, as other family members looked on in broad daylight at the attack without moving to stop the violence.

After what the family considered to be ‘a marriage that defiled the honour of the family’, Farzana’s relatives filed a police kidnapping charge against the man she had been engaged to for years, and had married, 45-year-old Mohammad Iqbal.

As a man who was considered unworthy to marry Farzana, Iqbal had enraged Farzana’s family further by refusing to pay what he described as an unreasonably high marriage dowry, known as a ‘brideprice’, that he considered to be “fleece money.”

Farzana was on her way attempting with her husband to walk a short distance to the court building in Lahore to testify against the family kidnapping charges when they were surrounded by a group of men, many family members. The message she had hoped to give to the high court judge was that, no, she was not forced to marry Iqbal, and no she was not kidnapped. She was also planning to tell the court that she was three months pregnant, outlined her attorney following the violence.

Located in a busy downtown region of Lahore, the fatal attack against Farzana happened during a time of day when public crimes, especially near the court, would never occur. Without adequate police protection or intervention, a fact that troubles international advocates, the crime was carried out. Although police investigators did follow-up on the case after the attack occurred.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” said one of the police investigators quoting Farzana’s father, who was one of a number of family members who were arrested immediately following the violent attack.

Every year, hundreds of women are killed in Pakistan as punishment for marrying men their families have not chosen, conveyed United Nations Human Rights Chief Navi Pillary on Wednesday in response to the local violence.

Some women receive deadly threats for refusing arranged marriages, UN Chief Pillay continued. The Pakistani Government must take strong measures to end these ‘so-called’ honour killings and other forms of violence against women, she added.

Steeped in traditions that are tied to what women advocates describe as ‘uneducated conservative rural beliefs’ that continue to control women who come from Pakistan’s marginalized communities intimidation and threats against women leading up to honour-based violence is a dangerous problem that still lingers in numerous regions in Pakistan.

At the time when she met Mohammad Iqbal, Farzana’s husband was a widower with five children.

“We were in love,” said Iqbal to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“I simply took her to court and registered a marriage,” explained Iqbal as he described the way he married Farzana as he circumvented paying what he considered to be ‘an unethical’ family demands with a ‘brideprice’. But at the time Iqbal did not know that Farzana’s family would kill her because of her association with him.

“Such brazen actions have been encouraged by the authorities’ failure to fulfill their duty to protect citizens’ lives,” said the HRCP – Human Rights Commission Pakistan immediately following the news of the murder of Farzana Parveen. “The sheer number of women falling victim to the so-called ‘honour killings’ is enough to dispel all illusions about any interest in saving their lives,” the HRCP continued.

“In 2013 alone, HRCP recorded the killing of nearly 900 women in ‘honour’ crimes from media reports. These women were killed because the state did not confront this feudal practice supported by religiosity and bigotry,” added the HCRP.

Farzana’s father and brothers, along with three others, were involved in the plan to attack Farzana, her husband Mohammed Iqbal said as part of his formal statement to the Lahore p0lice following the murder of his wife.

“Honour killings of women suspected of dishonouring their tribe and failing to adhere to custom occur frequently and it is rare for authorities to act against the perpetrators” outlined the Asian Human Rights Commission in a March 2014 report.

Farzana Parveen was from a rural village over 40 miles away from Lahore. Her husband is from a neighboring village.

“…the fact that Ms. Parveen was killed on her way to court shows a serious failure by the State to provide security for someone who was obviously at risk,” outlined UN Human Rights Chief Pillay after the news of the deadly attack against Farzana began to reach the larger media.


For more information on this topic listen to this UN radio release:


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