A Pakistan appeals court has freed the brother of murdered social media sensation Qandeel Baloch, three years after he was convicted of killing her for “bringing dishonor” to the family. Qandeel’s assassination in 2016 generated a nationwide uproar. Her brother Waseem Baloch was apprehended just days after the murder and admitted to killing his sister at her family’s home in Multan, Punjab province, Pakistan. Despite his admissions, he pled not guilty in court and received a life sentence in 2019. Pakistan lawmakers responded to the public outrage three months after Qandeel’s murder by introducing laws prohibiting the contentious practice, a milestone verdict that rights groups and lawyers applauded. But After six years of her murder, brother Waseem’s acquittal was ordered by Pakistan’s high court. This has stunned campaigners and public leaders who have been campaigning for Bloch’s justice, and it is a big step backward.
In 2016, the year of her death, social media sensation Qandeel was the most sought-after Pakistani on Internet. She was known as a social outcast. She was enjoying her personal freedoms, but she had no idea that she would have to pay so much to get to the end. Unsolved case of Qandeel cannot be tolerated in a country where thousand women are killed every year in the sake of honour.
In Pakistan, the occurrence of so-called “honor” killings has become a hot topic of discussion. Husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, cousins, and, in some cases, outsiders hired by the victims’ families are the culprits. Women or girls having sexual relationships (actual or alleged), having a boyfriend, marrying without family consent, and posting a controversial picture on social media are among the reasons they give for their crimes.
According to estimates issued by Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, 15,222 honour killings occurred between 2004 and 2016, averaging 1,170 per year and 22 per week. The problem is still present, according to more current figures. In Sindh province, 128 women were assassinated in the name of honour in 2021. In Punjab province, 90 women were killed, 2,439 were raped, and 9,529 were kidnapped between July and December 2021.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2004 failed to achieve the expected effect of eradicating or lowering ‘honor’ killings in Pakistan. To transform the societies and attitudes that enable honor killings, Pakistani society must change from the inside.