World
1:27 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Pakistani Woman Beaten To Death By Her Family As Police Stand By

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 8:16 am

Pakistan is reeling from the latest so-called "honor killing." A pregnant woman was stoned to death just feet from a courthouse for marrying a man against her family's wishes. Police stood by as family members, including a woman, took part in the killing.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: Anger is growing in Pakistan and beyond, over the murder of a young pregnant woman, who was beaten to death in a busy city center. Pakistan's Prime Minister has launched an investigation into why nearby police did nothing to stop it. As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, some in Pakistan called the woman's murder and others like it, honor killings. But those words are far from reality.

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PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Mohammed Iqbal is mourning his wife. He sits legs crossed beside her grave reciting the Quran. His shirt is splattered with blood. That's her blood he says. It's spilt on him as he was carrying her body away after she had been beaten to death by her own family. Her name Farzana Parveen, she was 25 and three months pregnant. Iqbal watched his wife die.

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REEVES: I tried my best, I tried my best to save her and to interview but they pushed us aside and then they killed her.

REEVES: Farzana grave lies among some trees near her home, deep in the countryside. Camels saunter along the lanes, houses are made of mud. This place is a world away from the scene of Farzana's murder. She died early Tuesday in the middle of the city Lahore. Farzana and Iqbal were going to the nearby high court, they wanted a legal ruling showing they had married of their free will. Farzana's father was accusing the 45 year old Iqbal of abducting her. Iqbal says a gang from her family including her father, brothers and one woman suddenly attacked. One of them shot her in the foot, then they beat her to death with bricks and indulged in some ritual humiliation.

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REEVES: They pelted her with shoes. I saw it with my own eyes, she was beautiful, it was a beautiful face and they were putting it with shoes. And some of them also danced.

REEVES: No one came to Farzana's aid.

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REEVES: There were many policemen deployed there. We kept on shouting, we kept on shouting for help. they did not listen to us.

REEVES: Farzana's father says her death is an honor killing. these a very common in Pakistan. A daughter who say, marries against the family's wishes or violated strict sexual codes is seen as dishonoring her own and is killed by them. Pakistan's Human Rights Commission recorded 869 honor killings last year. Though the real number is probably much higher. Most of these murders scant attention. there's an outcry over farzana's death because it happened here, in the hall, in a crowded street in Pakistan's second largest city. (Ph) Shazire Shazine is a human rights activist in Lahore, she says honor killings is the result of a certain mindset.

SHAZIRE SHAZINE: This is a known patriarchal society, which as entrenched patriarchal norms in it. And this is all about the patriarchal mindset, you know, people think that women are their commodity. They can do whatever they want to do with the women.

REEVES: Farzana certainly knew what it was to be treated as a commodity. Her husband Iqbal says he paid $800 for her hand in marriage the trouble began afterwards, when her family decided they wanted more.

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REEVES: It's not the matter of honor she was killed for money. If I paid 100,000 Rupees to them they would not have killed her. They killed her because I could not pay.

REEVES: There's something else you need to know about Iqbal. Today as an international outcry over Farzana's death gathered momentum, he suddenly dropped a bombshell. He admitted murdering his first wife because she wanted to marry Farzana. The circumstances are murky, a family member says Iqbal did jail time but got out after paying compensation. You see in his world money counts. More than the lives of mothers and daughters. Philip Reeves, NPR NEWS, Lahore.

ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR NEWS. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.