Pakistani social media icon’s brother arrested in her death
After Fauzia Azeem, 26, known online as Qandeel Baloch, was found strangled to death in her family’s home near Multan in Pakistan’s Punjab province, authorities began searching for her brothers.
Police officials told Al Jazeera that Baloch’s father had filed a case against Waseem and testified against another of his sons, claiming he encouraged the murder. Akram Azhar, the Multan police chief, said authorities would seek the “maximum punishment” for Waseem.
With posts that defied conservative social norms, Baloch drew support from those that viewed her as an advocate for women’s rights. She spoke openly about the expectations she faced as a woman, discussing issues such arranged marriage in interviews with Pakistani media.
“I was 17 years old when my parents forced an uneducated man on me,” she said. “The abuse I have been through… It happens in places like this, in small villages, in Baloch families. This happened to me too.”
Baloch received widespread criticism for her posts on social media, which some in Pakistan considered inappropriate. “What she (was) doing is a disgrace for Pakistan so she deserve this,” said Twitter user Asad Iqbal Orakzai, according to Reuters.
Honor killings consistently target females who male family members feel have tarnished the family’s reputation.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent nonprofit that tracks human rights violations, 987 honor crimes occurred in 2015 in Pakistan against 1096 victims. 170 of those victims were minors.
Advocates for a law to prevent honor killings took to social media after the news of Baloch’s death, speaking out against honor crimes and calling for reforms to existing legislation to ensure perpetrators are punished more consistently.
Families, especially those in rural areas, sometimes settle honor killings in tribal councils, which can allow those involved in the murders to avoid jail time.
Baloch had recently filed a request with the interior minister, the director general of the Federal Investigation Authority and the senior superintendent of Islamabad asking for protection, according to Dawn, a Pakistani media outlet based in Karachi. Baloch had said she was receiving threatening calls and hoped to gain government security protection, Dawn reported.