A Pakistani girl was burnt alive by her own mother over a marriage dispute. In the latest incident of honor killing, 17-year-old Zeenat Bibi was reportedly tied to a bed, doused with fuel, and then burned to death by her mother, Perveen Bibi, for marrying a man she loved against the will of her family.
Neighbors were stopped at the entrance by family members and so could not intervene, claims one of the locals, Nighat Bibi. The neighbors could reportedly hear the girl scream, and the mother made no attempt to hide her crime. Right after she was done, she ran out to the streets screaming that she had killed her daughter for dishonoring the family. According to the Telegraph, the police only arrived at the scene to find Zeenat’s charred body near a staircase.
Zeenat had eloped with a man named Hasan Khan on May 29. Zeenat’s family had disapproved of their marriage because of the boy’s ethnicity. The Khans were ethnic Pashtun, whereas the Bibis were Punjabi. The accused mother, Perveen, had later reassured her daughter that all was forgiven and had asked her to return home so that a proper marriage ceremony could be arranged. But instead she tortured and eventually killed her own daughter for “dishonoring the family.”
Hassan has told reporters that he and Zeenat had been in love since they were in school. The family had rejected several marriage proposals previously, which had forced them to elope.
“After living with me for four days following our marriage, her family contacted us and promised they would throw us a proper wedding party after eight days. Then we would be able live together.”
“Zeenat was unwilling to go back to her home and told me that she would be killed by her family, but later agreed when one of her uncles guaranteed her safety.”
Only two days after she had returned, Zeenat called Hassan to tell him that her family had gone back on their word and asked him to come pick her up. Hassan instead convinced her to stay for the full eight days as promised, hoping that the family would eventually yield.
Police have arrested Perveen Bibi, who has since confessed to the murder and even said that she has no regrets over what was done. She also confessed that she had help from her son. According to Sheikh Hammad, the local police official in charge of the case, Zeenat’s brother, Ahmar, is “on the run,” and the police are looking for him.
This is the third case in a month in which a woman has been burned to death in Pakistan. Only last week, 19-year-old Maria Sadaqat was reportedly lynched and then burned to death by a mob for refusing a marriage proposal. A few weeks before that, in a village near Abbottabad, a teenage girl was burned alive by the order of village elders for helping a friend elope.
Pakistan is rife with cases of deadly violence against women who dare to defy the conventional regulations on love and marriage. Nearly 1,100 women were murdered in so-called honor-killings in Pakistan last year, according to the latest report by the country’s Human Rights Commission. In 2015 alone, police formally investigated 76 cases of women being set on fire. Most of these so-called honor-killings are committed by relatives, with a small number carried out by people outside the family who also feel “dishonored” by the acts. And the worst part is, many of these killings go unreported.
[Photo by K.M. Chaudary/AP Images]