HONOUR crimes’ is an international phenomenon; however, this exercise is being more widespread in Pakistan. The killing of innocent women is largely due to inhuman, violent customary practices across Pakistan’s conservative society in the name of so called honour. Women are well-thought-out as the most troubled group in the Pakistani society. Almost every day there are stories in newspapers reporting horrible crimes against women, such as acid throwing, Vani, domestic violence, child marriages, bride burning, rape, human trafficking, and even killing in the name of honour. Killing in the name of honour is the most repeated crime against women currently going on in Pakistan.
Recently Pakistan’s social media sensation and model Qandeel Baloch was murdered at her home by her own brother in the name of so called honour. Her murder gave rise to two most eminent questions: why was she so bold and wanted to remain on the front page? Secondly, if she is murdered for honour’s sake; is the honour killing allowed in Islam or even in any other religion? The answer to both these questions is reflected in the attribute of the society: it’s the attribute of the conservative society which urged Fauzia Azeem to become Qandeel Baloch and her brother to become a killer of her own sister: the most loving relation among the relationships.
The point which converted her from Fouzia to Qandeel was the stereotypical thought of the conservative society. She was a radical and a rebel to the conservative masses of the society who with the means of power and taking advantage of their so called superiority always tried to suppress the voice and even rights of women. Qandeel was married twice with both her marriages remained unsuccessful rather abusive. First she married Ashiq Hussain in 2008 and had a son with him. They got separated in 2010 with Baloch claiming her husband to be abusive. There are reports she was separated from a second marriage as well. The turning point in her life was when she decided to live an independent life after being deceived by her lover on the day she was to flee with him. She began her career as a bus hostess but soon moved on to work abroad in South Africa, Middle East and Europe. Before long she decided to return to Pakistan to work on her acting skills. In this society, man has more rights than a woman. Even a man is given the authority to take away the rights from woman. Her fault was that she was a daring woman and raised her voice for the change in this stereotypical culture.
In her post, Baloch wrote: “At least international media can see what I am up to. How I am trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t wanna come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.” QB was an Internet impression or personality, one of the top 10 most searched people in Pakistan and though there were many who fated the nature and content of the videos that she shared on social media podiums, there was no disputatious in her popularity even on this conservative and stereotypical country. In another stake she wrote: “No matter how many times I will be pushed down under, but I am a fighter I will bounce back. Qandeel Baloch is “One Women Army”. Qandeel Baloch (is an) inspiration to those ladies who are treated badly and dominated by the society. I will keep on achieving and I know you will keep on hating. Damn but who cares”.
Keeping her videos away, or even sideway, she talks about the feminist struggle to break the stereotypes and wanted to bring women their legal rights i.e. right of freedom of speech or expression and the right to live; to live their life according to their will without encountering condemnation from society. One such video was a podcast that she shared on her Facebook page on July 4, which talks about her as an Internet personality to spread awareness regarding women’s right of freedom and the social contrast she represents that currently exists in Pakistan. But there was a contradiction on behalf of the audience; on one side, there was a huge call for her Facebook page to be banned, on the other she was regularly invited on prime time television programmes, usually talk shows.
For the admiration of her agenda supporters she tweeted once: “Here this one is for those people only. Thankyou my believers and supporters for understanding the message I try to convey through my bold posts and videos. It’s time to bring a change because the world is changing. Let’s open our minds and live in present.”
Qandeel, before becoming a star, led quite a pathetic life in a less developed area in DG Khan, called Shah Sadar Din. She lived and bloomed on controversy. Her videos, which apparently chagrined many who called for those videos to be banned, were the very men who gave them thousands of views. Honour killing in Pakistan, much like India and other developing or less educated countries, is unfortunately common. She had some days back claimed that her life is at threat; she demanded security by the Interior Minister, especially after meeting with cleric Mufti Abdul Qavi at an Iftar party.
Does Islam allow honour killing? Murder of any person without lawful reasons is prohibited. Islamic teachings do not allow any person to take the law into their hands and to commit murder, no matter what justification is. Islam does impose strict punishment for certain crimes, yet no one can act as judge and executioner. This would lead to a complete breakdown of society, as any person would be able to commit murder and then claim that they had valid reasons for doing so. As the Quran says; “Whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon them, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for them.”
Oscar winner, filmmaker and activist Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy said, “I really feel that no woman is safe in this country, until we start making examples of people, until we start sending men who kill women to jail, unless we literally say there will be no more killing and those who dare will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.” She further said, “There is not a single day where you don’t pick up a paper and see a woman hasn’t been killed… this is an epidemic. Other countries are moving towards massive advancement in different fields and here women are being killed in the name of honour; due to illiteracy. For the progression of any country it is necessary that every citizen must be given equal right and value.
— The writer is a freelance columnist based in Rawalpinidi.