Pakistan teen poisoned, choked and burned alive in ‘honor killing’
By Zahir Shah and Sophia Saifi, CNN
Islamabad (CNN)Just sixteen years old, she was choked, injected with poison, tied to a van and then burned to death — all in the name of honor.
More than a dozen people have been arrested, including the mother of the victim, after the teenage girl’s charred skeleton was found last Friday.
Police in Abbottabad, in Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said the death was a so-called honor killing ordered by a tribal council after the girl, named Ambreen, allegedly helped a neighbor and her boyfriend elope.
“The order came after Ambreen’s neighbor, Saima, had eloped with her boyfriend on the 22nd of April,” police officer Khurram Rasheed said.
The girl’s killing was ordered by a 15 member tribal council, or Jirga, which gathered to investigate the elopement, the officer said. Some of those council members then carried out the killing.
Ambreen’s mother had been arrested along with 13 members of the Jirga because she allegedly knew about the orders to kill her daughter but did not alert the authorities, Rasheed added.
The couple that eloped has been tracked and is in a safe place, police said. They added that those arrested will be tried in an anti-terrorism court.
The horrific crime has shone further light on the prevalence of honor killings in Pakistan.
Although illegal, around 1,100 women were killed by relatives in Pakistan last year, according to the country’s independent Human Rights Commission.
The crimes originate from tribal practices and are often metered out as punishment for behavior that is seen to bring dishonor to a family or village.
Women are more often the target of such killings, but men can also be victims. In 2014 a young newlywed couple were killed by members of the bride’s family after they married against the family’s wishes.
In February, director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s film on the subject, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” won an Oscar for best documentary short and helped bring renewed attention to the practice.
It followed the story of 18-year-old Sabha, who miraculously survived after she was shot, tied in a gurney bag and thrown in a river by her uncle and father for an unsanctioned marriage they thought brought shame on the family.
“To me honor killing is premeditated, cold-blooded murder, but the justification given by men when they kill a woman is that she did something without permission, or that is out of bounds of what society deems is OK for a woman,” Obaid-Chinoy said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed action after Obaid-Chinoy’s film was released, saying: “There is no honor in honor killing, in fact there can be nothing more degrading than to engage in brutal murder and to refer to it as honour.”