A Pakistani woman was burned alive by her husband and father-in-law for leaving the house without her husband’s permission. This killing is the latest example of the estimated hundreds of women who are the victims of honor killings in Pakistan.
Shabana Bibi, 25, went to visit her sister on Apr. 17, and returned home to Muhammad Siddique, her enraged husband who beat her for not asking his permission to leave the house. Siddique’s father also beat Bibi before he and his son doused her with petrol and set her on fire. Both Siddique and his father were arrested.
According to Bibi’s brother, Muhammad Azam, Bibi had been married to Siddique for three years and had suffered ongoing domestic abuse due to Siddique’s anger at their difficulties conceiving a child.
Bibi died in a hospital on Apr. 18, after suffering burns on 80 percent of her body.
“We have arrested the husband and father-in-law of the deceased woman and charged them for murder and terrorism,” said district police chief Rai Zameer-ul-Haq to AFP over the weekend. It is not uncommon for the charge of “terrorism” to be applied to cases such as this in order to expedite the trial.
The Aurat Foundation estimates that 3,000 women in Pakistan have been killed in honor killings since 2008. However, the actual number is likely higher, as the Aurat Foundation only compiles statistics from newspaper reports. Bibi was killed for not asking her husband’s permission to leave the house, but other women have been killed for marrying without their families’ consent, adultery, suspected adultery, possessing a cellphone, and even “looking like a boy,” according to the Washington Post and Human Rights Commission (HRC).
Honor killings have persisted in Pakistan despite condemnation from numerous organizations and international outcry. In 2014, civilians and members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan protested the honor killing of Farzana Iqbal, 25, a pregnant woman who was stoned to death by four male family members outside of a courthouse for marrying a man without their permission. Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) issued a fatwa declaring honor killings un-Islamic in Jun. 2014, signaling a potential cultural shift within Pakistan.
However, honor killings are still largely accepted in Pakistan as a method to deal with what is considered inappropriate behavior by women and to keep the honor of families intact. Perpetrators are often allowed to walk free, but in the case of Iqbal's attackers, the four men will spend the rest of their lives in prison after initially being sentenced to death. Bibi's attackers may face a similar fate.