Two Pakistani teenagers who eloped were murdered by their own families through electrocution for the purpose of salvaging their tribe’s honor. The families, who are members of the Pashtun ethnic group in Karachi, asked their “jirga” or tribal council to punish the couple after they left without permission.
The two decided to return after the man’s family promised him that they would be married. However, instead of a celebration, they were tied to a bed where they met their deaths through powerful electric shocks. According to the New York Post, an influential elder decided that the girl, 15, must be killed first by her father and uncle. The killing of the boy, 18, took place a day after. Both families tried to conceal their deaths by burying the two secretly.
Jirgas are typically tasked to resolve disputes in the community and while their rulings are not based on the law, members of the group honor their decisions which are influenced by centuries-old traditions.
Relatives of the couple who were responsible for the brutality have been arrested although the authorities are still looking for the council’s leader.
In Pakistan, hundreds die each year in honor killings for bringing shame to the family. Men could escape honor killings if a family member pardons them. After the death of socialite Qandeel Baloch in 2016 at the hands of her own brother, legislation was passed to intensify punishments for honor killings.
The 26-year-old was deemed as Pakistan’s own “Kim Kardashian” for her fondness of chronicling her life through social media. Born as Fouzia Azeem, she was married off in her teenage years, but a year and a baby later, she left her abusive husband. Baloch started teasing the public with her provocative photos and videos.
Despite the vindictive messages she was getting, she continued to defy the rules of patriarchy. She asked for protection because of the death threats but in the end, it was her brother who strangled her while she was sleeping. Her brother did not show remorse for he claimed he simply removed the stain Baloch caused their family.
Last year, an 18-year-old woman in Islamabad was likewise burned to death by her family. They claimed she was a disgrace for eloping against their wishes. To persuade her to return, the family promised safety to Zeenat Rafique only to be set ablaze by her mother and brother. They didn’t care if Rafique had been married to her lover for just 11 days.
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