In late middle school or early high school, we all had a deep-seated fear of stoning placed in us by Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery”. In said story, members of a town draw slips of paper until one family is singled out by drawing the paper with the black dot. Ultimately, the family draws papers again until a single person is determined the winner of the lottery, only to receive stoning as their reward. All of this is done in order to ensure a good harvest for the summer.
At the time of reading such a story, it is easy to dismiss such a practice as archaic. One never thinks about the reality of such an incident occurring. Unfortunately, fiction reflects reality all too often.
On Tuesday, 25-year-old Farzana Parveen was stoned to death by her family outside of a court house in Lahore, the second biggest city in Pakistan.
The reason for the outpour of violence had to do with the person Farzana Parveen chose to marry. In Pakistan, and many other cultures in the eastern hemisphere, it is common practice for the family to construct an arranged marriage for the children, and marriage for the sake of love is seen as a transgression against the honor of the family.
Instead of marrying her cousin as her family insisted, Parveen decided to elope with the love of her life, Mohammad Iqbal.
Upon hearing of the two sneaking off to marry, Parveen’s father filed an abduction case against Iqbal.
As Parveen and Iqbal were attending a court session Tuesday to contest the claims of abduction, 20 of Parveen’s family members, including her father and brothers, began attacking her and her husband with bricks from a nearby construction site.
Parveen was taken to a nearby hospital where she was declared dead due to head trauma.
— Stephanie Gruner (@GrunerS) May 27, 2014
Unfortunately, all of the attackers escaped except for Parveen’s father, who surrendered and admitted to the killing, saying it was a matter of honor.
Honor killings are horrendously common in Pakistan, with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reporting 869 such honor killings in Pakistan in 2013.
However, the honor killings are usually not as brutal or public as the stoning Parveen suffered.
“I have not heard of any such case in which a woman was stoned to death, and the most shameful and worrying thing is that this woman was killed in front of a court,” stated Zia Awan, a lawyer and human rights activist.
Despite the fact that this murder was carried out in broad daylight in front of many witnesses, Pakistani law will most likely allow the perpetrators to walk free.
According to Pakistani law, the family of a murdered woman has the right to forgive the murderer and allow him or her to escape punishment. When the murderer is also a family member, it creates a loophole in the system that is unfixable.
Knowing that Parveen’s father has a great chance to walk free is terribly disheartening for the advancement of human and women’s rights in the Middle East, especially considering he has no remorse for his actions: “I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it.”
Parveen’s body has been given to her husband, Mohammad Iqbal, for her burial.
Image via YouTube