Pakistan stoning victim's husband condemns police

Muhammad Iqbal said police did nothing to stop the stoning

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The husband of a Pakistani woman stoned to death by her own family in broad daylight outside a Lahore court says police just stood by during the attack.

Farzana Parveen, who was three months pregnant, was pelted with bricks and bludgeoned by relatives furious because she married against their wishes.

"They watched Farzana being killed and did nothing," her husband, Muhammad Iqbal, told the BBC.

There are hundreds of so-called "honour killings" in Pakistan each year.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said she was "deeply shocked" and urged Pakistan's government to take "urgent and strong measures".

"I do not even wish to use the phrase 'honour killing': there is not the faintest vestige of honour in killing a woman in this way."

Mr Iqbal described the police as "shameful" and "inhuman" for their failure to stop the attack.

 Police collect evidence near the body of Farzana Iqbal, who was killed by family members, at the site near the Lahore High Court building in Lahore May 27 Police questioned witnesses as Ms Parveen's bloodied body lay on the pavement

"We were shouting for help, but nobody listened. One of my relatives took off his clothes to capture police attention but they didn't intervene.

Arranged marriages are the norm in Pakistan and to marry against the wishes of the family is unthinkable in many deeply conservative communities.

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Shahzeb Jillani, BBC News, Karachi

This murder has appalled Pakistan's tiny but vocal civil society. Social media activists took to Twitter and Facebook to express their shock and horror. English language newspapers have published strongly-worded editorials to denounce the brutal crime.

But all that is in sharp contrast to the muted reaction in the mainstream Urdu language media which, instead, chose to focus on political and security-related stories.

This despite the fact that that killing of a woman in the name of honour remains an appalling reality in villages and towns across Pakistan.

As Dawn newspaper points out in its editorial: "The most shocking aspect of this killing, however, is that all the people witnessing the crime, even the law enforcers, were silent spectators as a woman was bludgeoned to her death."

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Ms Parveen's father later surrendered to police but other relatives who took part in the attack are still free.

Mr Iqbal said they were threatening him and his family.

"Yesterday [on Tuesday] they said they would snatch the dead body," he said. "We came here with a police escort."

"We arrested a few of them and others are currently being investigated," local police chief Mujahid Hussain said.

Dragged to floor

Ms Parveen comes from a small town outside the city of Lahore. According to reports, her family were furious because she decided to marry Mr Iqbal instead of a man they had chosen.

Her relatives then filed a case for abduction against Mr Iqbal at the High Court.

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Honour killings in Pakistan
Honour killing protest

• In 2013, 869 women murdered in so called "honour killings"

• Campaigners say real number is likely to be much higher

• Of these, 359 were so called "Karo Kari" cases, whereby family members consider themselves authorised to kill offending relatives to restore honour

• Rights groups say conviction rate in cases of sexual and other violence against women is "critically low"

Source: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan annual report 2013

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The newlyweds were only at the Lahore court to contest this case. Ms Parveen had already testified to police that she had married of her own free will.

Mr Iqbal told the BBC that when the couple arrived at the court on Tuesday to contest the case, his wife's relatives were waiting and tried to take her away.

As she struggled to free herself they dragged her to the floor, pelted her with bricks and then smashed her head. She died on the pavement.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says 869 women were murdered in "honour killings" in the country last year, although it is believed that the real figure could be higher.

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