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Man arrested after allegedly filming his brother strangling their sister to death in “honor” killing in Pakistan


A Pakistani man who allegedly filmed his brother strangling their sister to death has been arrested as part of the latest “honor” killing that has outraged the country, police said Sunday.

Maria Bibi, 22, was killed overnight on March 17, allegedly by her brother Muhammad Faisal and in the presence of her father Abdul Sattar, near Toba Tek Singh town in the central-eastern province of Punjab.

A video filmed by the woman’s other brother Shehbaz, and which has gone viral, appears to show Faisal strangling the girl on a bed in the family home while their father sat nearby.

At one point, the video appears to show Shehbaz saying “father, tell him to let go,” but is rebuffed as his brother continues to strangle the motionless body for more than two minutes.

When Faisal is done, his father offers him water to drink.

“The police found out on March 24 that the girl had not died of natural causes. We registered a case, becoming the complainants ourselves,” Ata Ullah, a police official in Toba Tek Singh told AFP by phone.

Sattar and Faisal were immediately arrested, while Shehbaz was arrested on Saturday evening to determine the extent of his involvement, the officer said.

The murder had all the hallmarks of an “honor” killing, he added. Shehbaz’s wife, who also appears in the video, has also been arrested.

Much of Pakistani society operates under a strict code of “honor,” with women beholden to their male relatives over choices around education, employment and who they can marry.

Pakistani human rights activists hold placards during a protest in Islamabad on May 29, 2014 against the killing of a pregnant woman who was beaten to death with bricks by members of her own family for marrying a man of her own choice in Lahore. 

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of women are killed by men in Pakistan every year for allegedly breaching this code.

There were 384 “honor killings” reported in 2022 alone, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

But many cases go unreported, as families tend to protect the murderers – often male relatives.

The motive for Maria Bibi’s murder has not yet been established.

Police said that Faisal, the killer, allegedly caught his sister talking on a video call with an unknown man on several occasions.

The chief minister of Punjab province, Maryam Nawaz, has designated the matter as “high-profile,” a term used for cases of public interest, although the legal system still allows for men to murder women with impunity.

In December, authorities arrested four people who allegedly killed an 18-year-old woman in the purported name of “honor” after a picture of her sitting with a boyfriend went viral on social media, police said Thursday. Police said the photo had been doctored and posted on fake social media accounts.

In 2022, the BBC reported the brother of a social media star was acquitted of murdering her. He had been sentenced to life in prison after confessing to the 2016 killing, saying it was because the star had brought shame on the family.

Also in 2022, a Pakistani man was arrested after being accused of killing his 18-year-old daughter in Italy after she reportedly refused an arranged marriage.

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