Four Arrested as Pakistan "Honor Killing" Story Becomes Increasingly Twisted

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 30 2014 12:40 PM

Four Arrested as Pakistan "Honor Killing" Story Becomes Increasingly Twisted

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Mohammad Iqbal with Farzana Parveen's body.

REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

A 25-year-old woman named Farzana Parveen was beaten to death earlier this week in Lahore, Pakistan, reportedly by members of her own family angry that she married a man named Muhammad Iqbal rather than the groom they had chosen for her. Initial reports after the incident, like this one from Reuters, told a straightforward if appalling story:

A 25-year-old woman was stoned to death by her family outside one of Pakistan's top courts on Tuesday in a so-called "honour" killing for marrying the man she loved, police said...
Pakistani law allows a victim's family to forgive their killer.
But in honour killings, most of the time the women's killers are her family, said Wasim Wagha of the Aurat Foundation. The law allows them to nominate someone to do the murder, then forgive him.
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Since then Pakistan's prime minister has stepped in and is apparently pushing for punishment. From the New York Times:

After an urgent appeal for action from the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, the police on Thursday night arrested Ms. Parveen’s uncle, two cousins and a driver employed by her family...The police arrested her father, Muhammad Azeem, in the hours after the killing.
A senior investigator, Umer Riaz Cheema, said the four men arrested Thursday would be presented before one of the city’s antiterrorism courts, which have special powers to expedite criminal prosecutions.

But at the same time as these apparent steps towards justice, Parveen's husband Muhammad Iqbal has become drastically less sympathetic, telling reporters he coveted Parveen "since she was a child"—and that he strangled his own first wife to death in 2009 before hiding out with Parveen's family. From the Times:

The police charged him with Ms. Bibi’s murder, but he was released under an Islamic provision of Pakistani law that allows a convict to be freed upon payment of money to the victim’s relatives.
Mr. Iqbal later asked for Ms. Parveen’s hand in marriage from her father, who agreed in exchange for a dowry of about $800. But then, he said, the family requested more money, and a dispute emerged.

In 2009, when Iqbal says he killed his first wife because he preferred Parveen, he would have been approximately 40 and she would have been approximately 20—which raises the question of whether her "choice" to marry Iqbal was itself coerced. And in the end, she and Iqbal's first wife are dead and he is, at this point, a free man.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

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