A Pakistani rights group Friday condemned a village council for ordering the brutal murder of a young woman after she helped a friend to elope.
The woman, believed to be around 16 to 18 years old, was drugged, strangled and her body burnt in a Suzuki van on the orders of the Makol village jirga (council) in northwest Pakistan on April 29 -- her murder a so-called honour killing.
‘It is impossible to not be astounded by the brutality and ruthlessness of those who ordered and oversaw the callous mowing down of a young person...in order to satisfy their notions of cultural proprietary,’ independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement.
‘The criminal actions of the jirga (village council) must be condemned unreservedly by all those who stand for rule of law and the right to life itself.’
Police have arrested 13 members of the jirga who ordered the murder of the girl. The victim's mother was also arrested, a police officer said, because she supported the jirga's decision.
A local anti-terrorism court on Thursday remanded the 14 suspects in police custody for two weeks on murder and terrorism charges.
Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year on the pretext of defending family ‘honour’, but it is rare to hear of those who facilitate elopements being killed as well.
Pakistan amended its criminal code in 2005 to prevent men who kill female relatives escaping punishment by pardoning themselves as an ‘heir’ of the victim.
But it is left to a judge's discretion to decide whether to impose a prison sentence when other relatives of the victim forgive the killer -- a loophole which critics say remains exploited.
‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’ -- a film telling the story of a rare survivor of an attempted honour killing -- won the Academy Award for best documentary short in February.
Amid publicity for the film, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to eradicate the ‘evil’ of honour killings but no fresh legislation has been tabled since then.
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