Zeenat Rafiq, 18, married the man she loved last month – Hasan Khan, a motorcycle mechanic. They went before a court magistrate to be married, instead of a traditional wedding, because her family did not approve. “When she told her parents about us, they beat her so severely she was bleeding from her mouth and nose,” her husband explained. So they eloped and went to live with his family.
Three days ago the girl’s mother and an uncle visited her, promising reconciliation and offering a “real traditional marriage ceremony.” Kahn said, “Her family lured her back…. She was afraid, she said ‘they are not going to spare me’. She didn’t want to go but my family convinced her. How were we to know they would kill her like this?”
After the mother got her home, Zeenat was tied to a cot, then, with the help of her son, the mother poured oil on the girl and set her on fire. Neighbors heard screaming, but the girl was already dead by the time police arrived. The mother, Parveen Rafiq, was arrested by police the same day, and confessed to the killing. Police say there were also signs of torture and strangulation. The brother is on the run, and police say they are looking for him.
Reportedly, nearly 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan each year in “honor killings”, for violating the conservative traditions of arranged marriages. A school teacher was burned to death last week for refusing to marry a man twice her age, and last month a 17-year-old girl was burned to death for helping a friend elope.
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