Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)
Relatives of a pregnant woman beat her to death with bricks near a court building in eastern Pakistan after she married a man against their will, authorities said.
Farzana Parveen, 25, was attacked Tuesday close to the high court in Lahore by a group of about 20 people, including her brothers, father and cousin, police said.
One family member made a noose of rough cloth around her neck while her brothers smashed bricks into her skull, said Mushtaq Ahmed, a police official, citing the preliminary report into the killing. She was three months pregnant, he said.
What had Parveen, who came from a village in Punjab, done to provoke such a brutal attack?
Police officials said she had refused to wed the cousin whom her family had selected for her, choosing instead to elope with a widower named Mohammad Iqbal.
The cousin her family wanted her to marry was among the people who attacked her, police said.
The family had challenged her marriage to Iqbal in the courts, accusing him of abducting her. The attack took place as Parveen was on her way from her lawyer’s office headed to the high court in Lahore, where she was expected to make a declaration that she had married Iqbal of her own volition.
So-called honor killings often originate from tribal traditions in Pakistan, but are not a part of Islam. Although they’re common in rural areas, Tuesday’s attack in a public area of a big city was unusual.
One of Pakistan’s leading newspapers, The Nation, expressed outrage over Parveen’s killing .
“The familiar brand of barbaric ‘justice’ yet again triumphs over the written law of the land,” it said in an editorial Wednesday. “Another case is settled outside the courts. Another woman, in search of justice, stoned to death, in the name of honor.”
‘People stand around and watch’….
According to a report published in April by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 869 women were the victims of honor killings last year.
But Farzana Bari, a human rights activist based in Islamabad, said the real number may be far higher since many families don’t report the crimes.
She said that in many cases, people outside the family don’t step in to protect the victim.
“I’ve seen in the past people stand around and watch, and don’t intervene because it is a private matter,” she told CNN on Wednesday.
And the killers often avoid prosecution…
Under an Islamic element of Pakistani law, known as the law of Diyat, the family of a victim is allowed to forgive the perpetrator, according to the human rights commission’s report.
“Thus the victim’s family usually is related to the perpetrator as well, and conveniently forgives their kin, absolving them of the murder,” the report said. That possibility of impunity has “continued to encourage others to follow suit,” it said.
Police said they had arrested Parveen’s father, whose name they gave only as Azeem. They said he had admitted to the killing and expressed no regret.
Search warrants are out for the other men accused of attacking her.