The cost of love in Pakistan: electrocution by family

A teenage Pakistani girl was electrocuted by her family for marrying out of Caste (Photo courtesy of Rantrave)

By Joseph Juhn
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Asia

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A teenage girl in Pakistan was electrocuted by her family members for falling in love with a man who comes from a lower caste, police said on Sunday.

Elders and relatives of Saima Bibi, 17, had a meeting with a village council, or panchayat, and came to conclude that an appropriate punishment for Saima for tarnishing the family name was death. Her guilt was falling in love with a man the family did not approve of.

“There are signs of torture and burns on her neck, back and hands which are most probably caused by electrocution,” said Zahoor Rabbani, the police from Bahawalpur district in east Pakistan where Saima was killed.

The incident prompted Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yusuf Raza Gilani, who took “serious notice” of the “the sad incident of the killing of a girl by electric current on the orders of the panchayat”, to order police to immediately submit a report, according to his office.

However, such news is nothing new. Saima’s death is known as an honor killing in Pakistan, which is commonly practiced in rural areas where, under tribal customs for generations, getting married without family approval or having sex outside marriage is deemed a serious slight to the nor of the family or the tribe.

Hundreds of people, most of them women, are brutally killed in Pakistan in the name of “honor” every year. Notably, the majority of these victims come from poor, rural families.

According to Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission’s latest report, nearly 650 women were killed in that way in 2009. These women, if accused of fornication, are stigmatized as a “kari”, or “black woman,” and punishment by death of such women was justified under tribal customs.

Saima fell in love with her neighbor, Dilawar, and was in hiding in Karachi, one of Pakistan’s biggest cities for more than a month. When her relatives located her and persuaded her to return to her home on the false promise that they will approve of her marriage.

“Her father, uncles and other relatives later refused to fulfil her wish because they said the boy comes from a lower caste,” said Rabbani.

When she refused to marry another man chosen by the family, Saima was brutally murdered by her own family members.

Rabbani said Saima’s father and her uncle had been detailed after police raided her village home.

For more information, please see:

Reuters – Pakistani girl ‘electrocuted’ in honour killing – 23 January 2011

All Voices – Pakistani Girl Saima Bibi was Brutally Electrocuted to Death by her Family Members – 24 January 2011

The China Post – Pakistani girl ‘electrocuted’ in honor killing – 24 January 2011

Author: Impunity Watch Archive