Zeenat Rafique: Pakistani Woman Strangled, Burnt Alive By Mother, Brother For Eloping With Her Lover

In yet another case of honor killing from southern Asia, Zeenat Rafique, an 18-year-old woman from Lahore, Pakistan, was killed by her own family members after she eloped and married her lover. According to CNN, Zeenat was strangled and then burnt alive by her brother. He was assisted in the crime by Zeenat's own mother, a woman later identified as Parveen Bibi.

Zeenat was in love with 19-year-old Hassan Khan, now her widower. According to Pakistani media reports, the two have been secretly seeing each other since they were in school and were dating for the last five years. The duo got married on May 29, after which Zeenat eloped and moved away from her family members. In a statement given by Hassan Khan to the police, he claims that Zeenat did fear for her life, since she was aware that her mother was against her relationship with him.

However, following intervention from Zeenat's paternal uncle over the possibility of a reconciliation, he reluctantly sent back Zeenat to her home. Zeenat herself was keen on talking to her mother to convince her for a possible reconciliation. However, her mother had other plans. According to Hassan, after Zeenat reached home, she was tied to a bed by her mother and brother. She was first strangled and to make sure she died, the duo poured gasoline over her body and set her on fire.

Following an autopsy, it was revealed that Zeenat was still alive and was breathing when she was set ablaze after doctors found traces of smoke in her respiratory tract. The doctors were also able to establish that she was strangled after they found strangulation marks on her neck. Zeenat's mother-in-law, Shahida Bib, also told police officials that they found strangulation marks on her neck.

Zeenat Rafique husband
Hassan Khan, Zeenat's husband being comforted by his family members. [Photo by AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary]Following Zeenat's killing, her mother turned herself in and is currently in police custody. Her brother, Ahmer Rafique, is still on the run. If Zeenat's killing wasn't enough, other members of her own family refused to accept her body for burial. Zeenat's Body was eventually handed over to her husband. She was laid to rest on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Shahida Bib is feeling guilty to have allowed Zeenat to leave and visit her parents for a reconciliation attempt.

"I only allowed her to visit her parents after her paternal uncle guaranteed her safety," she told Geo News.

Parveen Bibi, who remains in police custody is unrepentant and according to police officials, has not expressed any sorrow for her actions.

According to Nabeela Ghazanfar, a senior police official from Pakistan's Punjab province, a manhunt is on to nab Zeenat's brother.

"We are looking for her brother because an old woman cannot perform this act alone. There has to be help."
The news of this latest case of honor killing from Pakistan comes just a few weeks after a teenager and school teacher was burned alive for rejecting a marriage proposal. The woman, 19-year-old Maria Abbasi, was burnt alive, allegedly by five men, after she rejected a marriage proposal from one of the men. Another incident was reported a few weeks ago from the city of Abbottabad -- famous for being the place where Osama Bin Laden was found. There, another teenager was burnt alive, allegedly on orders of several village elders. Her crime? She had helped a friend of hers elope with another man.

Pakistan and several states in northern India have been witness to several similar cases of honor killing over the years. While many blame the age-old caste system that still exist in several rural societies in both the countries for this problem, very often, it is seen that such honor killings are carried out by several educated families as well.

[Photo by AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary]