Pakistani police have arrested a woman for allegedly burning her daughter alive for marrying against her family's wishes.
Zeenat Rafiq, 18, showed signs of torture and severe burns, police told the BBC. Officials will conduct an examination to determine if she was still alive when she was set on fire.
Hassan Khan, Zeenat’s husband, told the Washington Post that he and Zeenat fell in love at school. He proposed marriage but says her family rejected his offer. The couple eloped and moved in with Khan’s family.
According to The Associated Press, Zeenat was visited by her mother and uncle a week later. They invited her to return home and have a proper wedding reception. Khan recalled Zeenat telling him, “Don’t let me go, they will kill me,” but he encouraged her to reconcile with her family, believing that they would not hurt her, he told the BBC.
Police official Sheikh Hammad says that Zeenat’s mother, Parveen Rafiq, has confessed to murdering her daughter, the New York Post says. According to police, the woman tied her daughter to a cot, doused her in fuel, and lit her on fire. Parveen admitted to the crime and reportedly told police, “I don’t have any regrets,” officials told the AP.
Police are also searching for the victim’s brother, who they believe assisted in the killing, says the Washington Post.
Honor killings of women for violating marriage norms continue to be prevalent in Pakistan. The country’s independent Human Rights Commission reports that around 1,100 women and 88 men were victims of honor killings last year, says the BBC. These numbers represent a rise from recent years.
Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, has said that killings of young women by family members are incompatible with the teachings of Islam, according to the BBC.
However, honor killings continue to be a source of legal controversy in Pakistan, where more than 30 religious groups and political parties are actively fighting laws that prohibit domestic violence. The BBC reports that the nation’s Council of Islamic Ideology has come under fire for a recent proposal to allow husbands to “lightly beat” their wives for disobedience.