After repeated refusals of her family to allow her to marry the man she loved, Zeenat Rafiq, 18, eloped with Hassan Khan, a classmate. She was surprised therefore when her mother found her to say that all was forgiven and that she should return home for a belated celebration of the marriage. When she showed up, her mother and brother proceeded to beat and strangle her . . . and then burned her. Her mother, Perveen Bibi, has proudly claimed to have upheld the honor of the family by killing her own daughter. She told the police “I have no regrets.”
After killing and burning her daughter, Bibi ran outside and yelled, “I have killed my daughter for misbehaving and giving our family a bad name,.”
She was sentenced to death while Rafiq’s brother, Anees Rafiq, received life in prison.
Rafiq is just one of the roughly 1,000 women are slain every year by relatives. After she married in secret, the couple hid in fear for their lives until Rafiq’s mother and an uncle arrived with the offer of a ceremony. Notably, there is no record of the uncle being charged despite his involvement in luring the victim to her death.
Rafiq’s terrible death is a vivid reminder of the plight faced by women in many Muslim countries. However, it is reassuring that this murderer and her son have received stiff sentences in Pakistan.