Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is demanding immediate action following the brutal killing of a pregnant woman by her family for marrying a man of her choice.
Police say 25-year-old Farzana Parveen was beaten with bricks outside a courthouse in the eastern city of Lahore earlier this week as she waited to tell a judge she married a man of her own free will.
Her husband told reporters he begged police to stop the attack, but they stood by and did nothing as his wife's family members, including her father and brothers, beat her. But Lahore Police Chief Shafiq Ahmad told Reuters news agency that no police were present during the attack.
Western news agencies later reported that the husband, Mohammad Iqbal, had killed his first wife but was not jailed.
Honor Killings in Pakistan
Source: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
- 869 women were killed in honor killings in 2013
- Actual number of victims is believed to be much higher
- Rights groups want Pakistan to change the way it prosecutes and deals with honor killings
- Perpetrator is almost always related to victim, and the perpetrator can be absolved of murder if the family of the victim forgives them
On Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif issued a statement directing the chief minister of Punjab province, of which Lahore is the capital, to take immediate action and submit a report on the "unacceptable" crime by late Thursday.
In the capital, Islamabad, human rights activists protested the attack - holding up signs and shouting slogans demanding justice and an end to honor killings.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday urged the Pakistani government to do more to prevent such crimes. She said "I do not even wish to use the phrase 'honor killing'; there is not the faintest vestige of honor in killing a woman in this way."
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says nearly 900 women died in such crimes in 2013. The commission says the actual number may be much higher, since many honor killings go unreported.
Since almost no one is tried and convicted for such killings, rights groups say it is no surprise that "honor crimes" are on the rise in Pakistan. The culprits, they say, usually are freed - either acquitted due to intentionally flawed police investigations, released as a result of political influence or "pardoned" by victims or their relatives.