Zeenat Rafiq was an 18-year-old Pakistani woman who eloped with a classmate, Hassan Khan, despite her family’s disapproval. After being married for just one week, her mother Bibi found her and, to her surprise, offered to throw a wedding celebration, so she agreed. When she returned to her family in Lahore, Pakistan, however, her mother and brother beat and strangled her, before tying her to a cot and setting her ablaze. According to her sister, the mother then ran out shouting “I have killed my daughter for misbehaving and giving our family a bad name.” When the mother and brother were eventually arrested by the police, she told them she had no regrets.
“I couldn’t believe my ears,” Khan, the victim’s husband, told Newsweek. “I rushed to their house and saw the burned remains of a body — it was so badly disfigured I couldn’t even tell if it was a person.” He vowed to seek justice and told Newsweek he would not let her tragic death disturb his beautiful memories of her. “She was full of joy,” he said, “and had such a beautiful smile.”
On Monday, the victim’s brother was sentenced to life in prison, while the mother was sentenced to death. This “honor killing” was one of a series that sparked outrage in the country, leading a group of Pakistani clerics to issue a fatwa saying honor killings were “unethical and unjustifiable” and calling on the government to draft new legislation to address the problem. A landmark bill passed Pakistan’s parliament in October, which provides 25-year prison sentences for men convicted in honor killings and bars families from legally pardoning killers — a loophole that previously made prosecutions extremely difficult.
Read the full story at the The Washington Post.