A mother in Pakistan was on Monday sentenced to death for burning alive her 16-year-old daughter after she eloped and got married without the family’s consent, months after the Parliament passed a new law making the punishment for ‘honour killing’ more stringent.
The girl, Zeenat Rafiq, was set on fire by her mother Parveen Bibi in June 2016, a week after she eloped with a man, Hasan Khan, and married him in a Lahore court.
Parveen had earlier confessed that she had murdered her daughter for “bringing shame to the family”.
Police had suspected that she was helped by her son and a son-in-law in killing the girl.
Anti-Terrorism Court Lahore judge Chaudhry Muhammad Ilyas sentenced Parveen to death and her son Anees to life imprisonment for killing Zeenat. The court, however, acquitted the son-in-law, Zafar.
Both the convicts confessed in the court that they had first beaten up Zeenat and then her mother tied her to a bed and set her on fire after dousing her with kerosene.
In her confessional statement, the mother said she killed her daughter for disgracing the family honour and had “no regret” in burning her alive.
Zeenat had married Hasan, who was from her locality, on May 29 last year. Hasan was a Pashtun while Zeenat was a Punjabi which was said to be the main cause of her family’s disapproval, forcing them to elope.
Zeenat’s husband had agreed to let his wife return to her home after her family promised to organise a traditional wedding reception for the couple.
He said that Zeenat was not willing to go back to her parents’ home because she feared they would kill her.
“But she agreed after her family gave assurances regarding her safety,” he said.
He said that after two days, she called him and said that her family was angry and she was not feeling safe there. She was later killed.
After Zeenat was set on fire in a low-income neighbourhood of Lahore, none of her relatives sought to claim her body, police said, leaving her husband’s family to bury her charred remains in the dark in a graveyard near the city.
Pakistan’s national assembly in October last year passed a much-anticipated new law that mandates a stiff penalty for those convicted of so-called honour killings and closes a legal loophole that has permitted the families of those who commit honour killings to forgive the perpetrator.
The new law mandates a minimum 25-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of carrying out an honour killing, and prohibits families of victims from forgiving the killer -- a common occurrence in these tragic crimes.
Hundreds of women are killed every year in Pakistan often by their family members in the name of so-called honour.