Last year, 18-year-old Zeenat Rafiq eloped from her house in Lahore to marry her classmate, Hassan Khan. Just a week after the incident, her mother Parveen Bibi invited her back home, promising her a wedding reception. And on her return, she was strangled, choked, tied and set on fire by her mother and brother.

The young couple’s relationship was never viewed in a favourable light by Zeenat’s family, so she was surprised to receive an invitation from her mother. While leaving, Zeenat had told her husband that this might be the last time he would be seeing her. When Hassan saw the body, it was nothing but a heap of charred remains of what had once been his wife.

Zeenat was strangled, choked, tied and set on fire by her mother and brother. When her husband saw the body, it was nothing but a heap of charred remains of what had once been his wife

Her mother admitted to having killed her daughter “for misbehaving and giving the family a bad name” and that she had no regrets. The tragic incident was reported in June, but earlier this week, Parveen Bibi was sentenced to death and her brother Anees Rafiq was given a life sentence.

Honour Killing is considerably rampant in Pakistan. A Human Rights Report from 2015 states that 1,100 women died that year owing to honour killings. Nine hundred women suffered sexual violence and 800 attempted or managed to take their own lives.

On his wife’s death, Hasan had expressed his disdain towards the government for their inability to solve the problem. But, in October last year, an important legislation was passed which ensured a minimum of a 25-year prison sentence for men convicted in honour killings. It also barred the victim’s families from absolving the perpetrators which would make their persecution difficult and at times, impossible.

One hopes that the legislature combined with an effective justice system would make families think twice before taking such a horrific and severe step.

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