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Pakistan: Slit throats and bullets await couples who marry for love

Mubasher Bukhari

Two more "honour killings" in Pakistan this week highlight the plight of young couples who marry without the consent of their families.

Members of society and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan protest against 'honour killings' after pregnant Farzana Iqbal's family stoned and beat her to death for marrying for love. (Reuters)

A young couple in Pakistan were tied up and had their throats slit with scythes after they married for love, police said on Saturday.

The 17-year-old girl and 31-year-old man married on June 18 without the consent of their families in eastern Pakistan’s Punjabi village of Satrah, according to the police.

The girl’s mother and father lured the couple home late on Thursday with the promise that their marriage would receive a family blessing, said local police official Rana Zashid.

“When the couple reached there, they tied them with ropes,” he said. “He [the girl’s father] cut their throats.”

Police arrested the family, who said they had been embarrassed by the marriage of their daughter, named Muafia Hussein, to a man from a less important tribe.

Widely accepted
Cultural traditions in many areas of Pakistan mean that killing a woman whose behaviour is seen as immodest is widely accepted.

Immodest behaviour that sparked recent killings included singing, looking out of the window and talking to a man who is not a relative. For a woman to marry a man of her choice is considered an unacceptable insult by many families.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said 869 so-called “honour killings” were reported in the media last year – several a day. But the true figure is much higher as many cases are never reported.

The weak Pakistani government, battling with a troubled economy and a Taliban insurgency, does not collect centralised statistics and has no strategy to combat the killings.

Pakistani law says that even if a woman’s killer is convicted, her family are able to forgive the killer. 

Many families simply nominate a member to do the killing, then formally forgive the killer.

Family forgiveness
That’s what happened earlier this week, according to a local lawyer, when a tribal council in central Pakistan’s Muzaffargarh district sentenced another young couple to death for marrying for love.

The couple’s lawyer, Zia Kiyyani, said the two appealed for police protection after their marriage on June 21 but did not received it.

The 19-year-old girl’s family came to take her from her husband’s family, swearing on the Koran that they would not harm her and would hold a proper wedding ceremony, he said.

“During this the girl shouted, cried and mourned for her life and her husband’s life because she knew that they will kill both of them,” he said.

The girl, named Mehreen Bibi, was shot by a member of her family when she returned home, police said. Her husband went into hiding and her father registered the murder complaint so he could forgive the killer, said Kiyyani.

“That will end the case,” he said. – Reuters, additional reporting by Asim Tanveer

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