Teen Girl Strangled And Burned Alive After Helping Friend Elope, Pakistani Police Arrest 15 Crime Suspects

Several members of a tribal council in a village in Pakistan were arrested after a teen was burned alive. The arrest was done by police on Thursday.

Police in Abbottabad in Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said Ambreen, 16, was choked, drugged,and tied to a van. The teen was then burned alive after tribal leaders found out she had helped her friend elope with her boyfriend.

Fifteen members of the tribe council, known as Jirga, were arrested. The men justified the killing as an honor killing, police said.

“The order came after Ambreen’s neighbor, Saima, had eloped with her boyfriend on the 22nd of April,” police officer Khurram Rasheed stated.

The teen was burned alive last week in Donga Gali, about 50 kilometers northeast of Islamabad, according to district police Chief Saeed Wazir. He said the act was pre-planned. Wazir went on to say that the teen was burned alive to serve as a lesson to minors, especially girls.

A graphic photo of the teen who had been burned alive even went viral online.

Honor killing is a form of punishment that occurs when tribe member brings “shame” to their family or village.

According to police reports, the couple married secretly with the help of the victim. The bride’s father was said to be against her wedding the man, so the bride “did a love marriage at court with a guy.”

The act was in defiance of cultural norms and Pakistan’s strict Islamic and paternal customs. Tradition dictates that women in Pakistan need to receive their father’s permission before marrying.

After the bride’s father learned of the marriage, he called the village council leaders to investigate. The elders called a meeting, as such meetings play an important role in conflict resolution in some villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

When the elders discovered that Ambreen had helped her friends get married without consent, they decided to punish her for participating and keeping mum about it.

Several men forcibly took the teen from her house to an abandoned place outside the village and drugged her, according to Wazir. She was unconscious but still alive when the men burned the vehicle.

“Then they seated the girl in a van in which the couple had escaped. They tied her hands to the seats and then poured petrol on her and the vehicle,” he added. Then the van was set on fire. “I hadn’t seen such a barbaric attack in my whole life.”

The leader of the Jirga and the father of the bride were reportedly arrested, while the men who participated in death of the teen burned alive were also charged. According to reports, the newlyweds are currently in a safe place.

The teen’s mother and brother were reportedly arrested, as they were said to have been present during the Jirga meeting and to have agreed to the sentence.

Based on a report by Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, 8,694 girls and women died in honor killings from 2004 and 2015. Last year, over 1,000 Pakistani women were killed for allegedly defying their villages’ customs. Most of the crimes were carried out by the relatives of the victims saying they dishonored their family.

Few cases go to court and attackers are often pardoned because their justice system is based on Islamic law. This problem was even tackled in an Oscar-award winning documentary film, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, by director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised to put an end to this sort of crime after the film’s release. His political party, Pakistan Muslim League-N, even passed a women’s rights bill in Punjab province. The bill provides for the launch a 24-hour domestic abuse hotline and shelters that will offer housing, first-aid, and counseling for women, The Washington Post reported.

[Photo by Aqeel Ahmed/AP Images]