More arrests have been made in the case of a Pakistani woman who was stoned to death in May. Five individuals, including the young woman’s father, have been charged with publicly killing her in front of a courthouse in Lahore.
Farzana Parveen, 25, was attacked by a mob of about 30 people who systematically beat her with bricks and clubs in yet another of what are commonly being referred to in Pakistan as “honor killings.” As is common among conservative Pakistanis, Parveen’s family had arranged her marriage for her. However, she decided to break tradition and instead marry someone else for love. Her family was not pleased.
“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family…I have no regret over it,” Mohammad Azeem, Parveen’s father, said. Parveen and her husband, Mohammad Iqbal, had been on their way to the courthouse to dispute her family’s allegations that Iqbal had kidnapped her.
More arrests have been made since the Pakistan woman was stoned to death before a crowd of onlookers. The mob who participated in Parveen’s death included some members of her immediate family. In all 12 people are now in custody, including her father, her uncle and two cousins. The public execution is currently being regarded as an act of terror by the court. According to Maliha Zia, a lawyer associated with Aurat Foundation, a Pakistani women’s rights organization, the display could have “wider consequences on the safety and well being of all of society.”
These types of killings are not unheard of in Pakistan. Frequently originating from tribal traditions not a part of Islam; they usual occur in rural areas. Parveen’s death is somewhat unique in that it happened in a largely populated city. Oftentimes, many bystanders will not intervene in the killings because they are considered to be internal family concerns. According to the Human Right’s Commission of Pakistan, 869 women were victims of honor killings in 2013. Women’s rights activists say that may be a conservative estimate.
Parveen’s widowed husband killed his first wife so he could propose to Parveen. Local authorities were first alerted to the situation by Iqbal’s son. Iqbal served a year in prison, but was later released on bail when his son, Aurengzeb, forgave him. Iqbal claimed Parveen’s family had originally consented to the marriage and he had given Parveen’s father 80,000 rupees and gold jewelry as part of the arrangement. Those plans disintegrated when Parveen’s mother died and her family decided to marry her off to a cousin instead. Parveen’s family allegedly tried to extort money from Iqbal in exchange for their lives. Iqbal, a village farmer, could not procure the funds.
Police have made more arrests of suspects who may have participated in stoning the young Pakistani woman. The five men charged in the case have all pleaded not guilty. The trial is set to begin on Monday, at which time the court will call on prosecution witnesses to appear. According to Mian Zulfiqar, the police investigator in the case, the police and doctors who performed the autopsy will be present to testify. Parveen was three months pregnant at the time of her death. Pakistani police officers who were present during the attack but did not intervene will be investigated, one court official said.
By Samuel Williams