Slain social media sensation Qandeel Baloch’s brother has been charged with her murder by a court in her hometown, the final step before the trial in one of Pakistan’s highest-profile “honour killings”.
Women’s rights groups have demanded exemplary punishment for Qandeel’s brother, Muhammad Waseem, and his accomplices. Waseem has confessed to killing her to protect the family’s honour.
The case will be a test for laws passed in October under which it is no longer possible for a victim’s family to forgive those responsible for honour killings.
Waseem was produced in a court in Multan on Monday with his cousin Haq Nawaz, whom police have described as an accomplice. Another accused, taxi driver Abdul Basit, is free on bail.
The judge indicted the three men and set the next hearing for December 8. The accused pleaded not guilty.
It is believed more than 600 people are killed in Pakistan every year in the name of honour, but the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports most of these murders are linked to property and money disputes.
Women are also killed when they do not bring in enough dowry after marriage or, in some instances, to settle scores between families.
Qandeel Baloch shot to fame with her provocative presence on social media and her risqué videos that polarised Pakistan’s conservative society. Qandeel was an assumed name and she was murdered shortly after the media reported on her real identity. Her brother claimed she had brought disgrace to the family.
Some of Baloch’s more notorious acts included offering to perform a striptease for the Pakistani cricket team, and wearing a plunging scarlet dress on Valentine’s Day. She also posed for selfies with Mufti Abdul Qavi, a high-profile cleric, in an incident that saw him rebuked by the religious affairs ministry.
Waseem told a news conference in July he was not remorseful for what he did, calling his sister’s behaviour “intolerable”.