Central & South Asia

Pakistani stoning victim's husband speaks out

Spouse of woman killed by family for marrying man she loved says police did not take action during attack in Lahore.

Last updated: 29 May 2014 16:36
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The husband of the pregnant woman stoned to death by her family in Pakistan has said that the police did not take any action when the incident occurred.

Farzana Iqbal, 25, was attacked outside a court in Lahore city on Tuesday, police said, because she had married the man she loved instead of a cousin selected for her.

Her husband, Muhammed Iqbal, told the Reuters news agency on Thursday that the police did nothing during the 15 minutes the violence lasted outside the High Court.

"I begged them to help us but they said, this is not our duty," he said. "I took off my shirt [to be humble] and begged them to save her."

Police initially said Farzana had been stoned, but Iqbal told Reuters that relatives had swung bricks, not thrown them.

Meanwhile, in the capital Islamabad, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken notice of the "brutal killing" in the presence of the police, his press office said in a statement, adding that a "totally unacceptable" crime had to be dealt with promptly by law.

"I am directing the chief minister to take immediate action and a report must be submitted by this evening to my office," it said, quoting Sharif.

'Don't kill me'

In parts of Pakistan, women are expected to agree to arranged marriages and refusal can mean an "honour killing". The attack happened near the gate of the heavily guarded court on one of the busiest roads in Lahore, one of the country's largest cities.

The couple had been due to testify there that morning that their marriage was genuine in response to a false charge of kidnapping brought by Farzana's family.

Pakistani woman stoned to death

All the suspects, except the father, who has been detained, have disappeared. A police officer on Tuesday quoted the father as saying it had been an honour killing.

Muhammad Aurangzeb, Farzana's 20-year-old stepson, described how one relative had tried to shoot her, then grabbed her head scarf, causing her to fall over.

While a member of Iqbal's party wrestled the gun away, a female cousin grabbed a brick and hit Farzana with it, he said.

"She was screaming and crying 'don't kill me, we will give you money'," Iqbal said. He said he tried to save her but the mob of more than 20 beat him back.

At one point, six people, which also included two brothers and a former fiance, were beating her with bricks as she screamed, he said, and he and his stepson begged the police to help. 

Later on Thursday, in a twist to the story, Iqbal told the AFP news agency that he had murdered his first wife. 

"I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love," telling AFP he had strangled her. 

Iqbal said he was spared a prison term because his son -- who alerted police to the murder -- later forgave him under Pakistan's controversial blood-money laws.

Honour killings are common in Pakistan, but the brutality of this case caused outrage around the world.

"I do not even wish to use the phrase honour killing," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement in Geneva. "There is not the faintest vestige of honour in killing a woman in this way."

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that there were 869 such attacks reported in the media last year - several a day. But the true figure is probably much higher since many cases are never reported.


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