PARENTS COMFORT SCARED DAUGHTERS AFTER LAHORE ‘HONOR KILLING’ BY AFP
Two young girls stand inches away from charred bricks and ash, staring at the detritus (debris) of a “kind and gentle” teenager who taught them the Quran but was savagely burned by her mother for marrying the man of her choice.
Maham and Muskan were pictured Wednesday with their eyes riveted to the spot where, just hours before, 16-year-old Zeenat Bibi was doused in kerosene and set alight. That night, Maham’s mother told AFP, she had to reassure her tearful and confused daughter that she loved her.
“She cried a lot and wept a lot, she did not eat anything,” Rani Bibi, not related to Zeenat, said Thursday. “She slept with me. Before sleeping she asked many questions: ‘Why was my teacher killed? Why did her mum kill her?’ I said, ‘Don’t worry. You are my beloved daughter.’”
Maham, pictured in pink and black and frowning as she looked at the burn marks, told AFP she had seen her teacher’s feet beneath the shroud covering her body. “When I saw that I started weeping because my teacher was dead,” the 10-year-old said. “I was so afraid.”
Muskan, also 10, lived opposite Zeenat in Lahore, and had been taught the Quran by her too, said the child’s grandmother Nasreen Bibi. “Her face was very pale when she returned from the house,” she said of her granddaughter. “She was looking very afraid.”
Zeenat, both the women added, was “so kind and gentle.”
Mobile phone photo of Zeenat Bibi, held by her bereaved husband
The Pakistani mother has been arrested on suspicion of burning her 16-year-old daughter alive for marrying without family consent in the latest so-called "honour killing" to shock the country.
As her daughter burned, Perveen Bibi ran into the street shouting that she had killed the teen for bringing shame on her family.
The police eventually arrived and found the charred body near a staircase.
Zeenat married a man named Hasan Khan on May 29, police said. Khan's ethnicity - he is an ethnic Pashtun, while Zeenat was a Punjabi - was the main cause of the family's disapproval, according to the woman's family.
Police have said burns covered 90 percent of her body. A post-mortem to determine whether she was still alive when she was set on fire was being conducted.
None of her relatives sought to claim her body, police said Thursday, leaving her new husband’s family to bury her charred remains before dawn in a graveyard near the city.
The vicious murder has sparked fresh calls for action against so-called “honor killings” in Pakistan. Hundreds of women are killed by their relatives across the country each year after allegedly bringing shame on their families.
“I never [saw] such a mother in my whole life,” said Zeenat’s mother-in-law Shahida Bibi. “Zeenat was so cute, so simple, so innocent and so kind… I loved her very much.”
Her own child (the husband) is demented with grief, she said. “Our boy has gone mad.”
“The family, which is supposed to be the basic unit of society, turning against their own child shows that there is something flawed in law and society,” said rights activist Hina Gilani. The hashtag #NoMoreKillingGirls was being used by Pakistanis on Twitter over Thursday and was officially trending in Karachi.
“They are killing minds and souls,” wrote one user in Karachi. Tweeting the image of Maham and Muskan staring at the ash, another added: “What r girls thinking & getting msg? Girls hv no value?”
Fear and depression has taken over the neighborhood a day after the murder, residents said. “Parents should protect their children,” said Muhammad Asghar, a neighbor who has two daughters and one son. His daughters, Amina and Fatima, were also students of Zeenat, he said.
They were visiting their grandparents when the teenager was killed, and learned of her death on television. “They phoned me… they were weeping, wanted to come home.”
It is the first time such an attack has taken place in that neighborhood, he said, but it frightened him so much he is now considering moving. “We will start preaching to parents in this street to take care of their kids,” said another neighbor, 60-year-old Firdaus Bibi.
The message will fall into a void at Zeenat’s home, where the doors were locked closed on Thursday. “They have left,” Ashgar said. “Why they have gone, when everybody is coming to share their grief?”
Hundreds of women are killed every year in Pakistan - often by their own family members - for violating the country's conservative norms regarding love and marriage. Sex outside of marriage is seen by conservative Pakistanis as a stain on the honour of the woman's entire family, one that can only be removed by killing her.
Last week a schoolteacher, Maria Bibi, was set on fire for refusing to marry a man twice her age. The prime suspect in the case - the father of the man she refused to marry - he and four others are in custody.
A month earlier, police arrested 13 members of a local tribal council who allegedly strangled a girl and set her on fire for helping a friend elope. The charred body of 17-year-old Ambreen Riasat was found in a burned van.
Even though the mother was arrested, someone else in the family could forgive her and she would be set free. That's Pakistani justice! That's Islamic insanity!