Police in Pakistan on Thursday arrested 15 members of a tribal council who are accused of ordering a 16-year-old girl to be burned alive because she helped a couple elope, authorities said. The brutal “honor killing” occurred last week in the town of Donga Gali, which is about 30 miles north of the country’s capital city, Islamabad. Police say the council ordered the honor killing after the girl had helped a couple from a neighboring village elope. The council allegedly rationalized the punishment by saying the teen had done irreparable damage to the village’s reputation. The girl’s mother and brother also attended the meeting during which the honor killing order was handed down — and they agreed with the decision. Police arrested them as well on Wednesday. According to authorities, the girl’s mother said helping the couple elope flouted cultural norms.
District police chief Saeed Wazir gave Reuters an account of how the brutal crime was carried out. He said that members of the council “took her to an abandoned place outside the village and made her unconscious by injecting her with some drugs… 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.” Wazir said the perpetrators ignited the vehicle and left the girl to be burned alive. “I hadn’t seen such a barbaric attack in my whole life,” he added.
Outrage in Pakistan, where honor killings are all too common, has mounted in recent years. Documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won an Oscar this year for her film A Girl in the River, which chronicled the story of a girl who survived an attempted honor killing, has appeared on the Women in the World stage to discuss the problem, and has written about the subject on our website. In fact, her latest film, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short this year, caught the attention of Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. After watching the film in February, Sharif said that honor killings are “totally against Islam and anyone who does this must be punished and punished very severely.” He vowed to change the loopholes in Pakistan’s laws that some interpret as legal grounds to carry out honor killings “at the earliest possibility.”
Read the full story at Reuters.