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APTOPIX Pakistan

LAHORE Pakistan (Reuters) – A young couple in Pakistan were tied up and had their throats slit with scythes after they married for love, police said Saturday.

The 17-year-old girl and 31-year-old man married on June 18 without the consent of their families in eastern Pakistan’s Punjabi village of Satrah, police said.

The girl’s mother and father lured the couple home late on Thursday with the promise that their marriage would receive a family blessing, said local police official Rana Zashid.

“When the couple reached there, they tied them with ropes,” he said. “He (the girl’s father) cut their throats.”

Police arrested the family, who said they had been embarrassed by the marriage of their daughter, named Muafia Hussein, to a man from a less important tribe.

Cultural traditions in many areas of Pakistan mean that killing a woman whose behavior is seen as immodest is widely accepted.

Immodest behavior that sparked recent killings included singing, looking out of the window or talking to a man who is not a relative. For a woman to marry a man of her own choice is considered an unacceptable insult by many families.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said 869 so-called “honor killings” were reported in the media last year – several a day. But the true figure is probably much higher since many cases are never reported.

The weak Pakistani government, battling with a troubled economy and a Taliban insurgency, does not collect centralized statistics and has no strategy to combat the killings.

Pakistani law means that even if a woman’s killer is convicted, her family are able to forgive the killer.

Many families simply nominate a member to do the killing, then formally forgive the killer.

That’s what happened earlier this week, a lawyer said, when a tribal council in central Pakistan’s Muzaffargarh district sentenced another young couple to death for marrying for love.

The couple’s lawyer, Zia Kiyyani, said the two had appealed for police protection after their marriage on June 21, but had not received any.

The 19-year-old girl’s family came to take her from her husband’s family, swearing on the Koran that they would not harm her and would hold a proper wedding ceremony, he said.

“During this the girl shouted, cried and mourned for her life and her husband’s life because she knew that they will kill both of them,” he said.

The girl, named Mehreen Bibi, was shot by a member of her family when she returned home, police said. Her husband went into hiding and her father registered the murder complaint so he could forgive the killer, Kiyyani said.

“That will end the case,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Asim Tanveer in Multan; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Matt Driskill)

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – The postmortem of a Pakistani woman killed for marrying the man she loved has established that she was five months pregnant, her stepson told Reuters on Wednesday.

Farzana Iqbal, 25, was stoned to death by her family outside one of Pakistan’s top courts in the city of Lahore on Tuesday in a so-called “honor” killing.

“Her baby died in her womb,” said Muhammad Aurangzeb, a son of her previous husband.

Honor killings are common in Pakistan, where women are often denied their basic rights. But the brutality of this case caused outrage around the world.

Many Pakistani families think it dishonorable for a woman to fall in love and choose her own husband.

Police said her father, two brothers and a former fiance were among the attackers. She suffered severe head injuries when they surrounded her and threw bricks at her, and was pronounced dead in hospital.

Although she was pregnant, police only registered the case as one of a single murder, Aurangzeb said. Police were not available for comment. All the suspects except her father escaped.

Iqbal had been engaged to her cousin but married another man, police said. Her family had registered a kidnapping case against him and she had come to court to argue that she had married of her own free will.

She was buried in her village near the city of Faisalabad.

UN RIGHTS CHIEF “SHOCKED”

U. N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in Geneva she was deeply shocked by the case.

“I do not even wish to use the phrase ‘honor killing’: there is not the faintest vestige of honor in killing a woman in this way,” Pillay said in a statement.

“The fact that she was killed on her way to court shows a serious failure by the State to provide security for someone who – given how common such killings are in Pakistan – was obviously at risk.”

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 869 women were murdered in “honor killings” in the country last year, but the real figure could be higher, the statement said.

“People who carry out ‘honor crimes’ are rarely prosecuted, and even when they are, they often receive absurdly light sentences, considering they have committed pre-meditated murder,” Pillay said.

“This is unacceptable, and it is clearly both the State’s and the judiciary’s responsibility to work seriously to deter such crimes, and ensure that people who commit them are brought to justice.”

The U. N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has criticized Pakistan for giving legal concessions, light sentences or pardons for people guilty of honor killings.

“Such provisions are particularly pernicious when members of the same family that conducted the killing are given the right to pardon the killers,” Pillay said.

(Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari; Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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