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Qandeel Baloch, Pakistan’s latest honour killing victim

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  Known for posting risqué videos and photos across her social media, Qandeel Baloch was Pakistan’s truest social media celebrity. Amassing legions of fans and followers in addition to thousands of ‘haters’, Baloch catapulted to notoriety when she promised a ‘strip tease’ dance to celebrate Pakistan cricket team winning a crucial match against India. This was followed by another viral set of selfies with an Islamic scholar, a member of the moon sighting committee in Pakistan. Mufti Abdul Qavi was stripped of his membership after the scandal. She was invited on TV talk shows where she boldly declared herself to be a ‘one woman army’ who was afraid of no one. This past Friday she was found dead at her residence in Multan, Pakistan. Soon after her brother admitted to the media that he had strangled Baloch after drugging her with sleeping pills, for bringing ‘dishonour’ and shame to the family. Her murder is certainly not one of its kind in the Pakistani milieu where ‘honour killings’ in the year past numbered more than a 1000, according to a BBC report. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Pakistan’s only Academy Award winner won her second Oscar for her documentary on the same subject. During screenings of her documentary, Girl in the River, Obaid-Chinoy reports that some people in the audience could be heard cheering for the father who wanted to kill his daughter. While Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of the country promised to outlaw the practice, it was another political promise that hasn’t materialized. This latest and most notable instance of honour killing has brought the issue into the limelight once again. Talking to Al Jazeera, Obaid-Chinoy called it an ‘epidemic’: "I'm very shaken up today. Activists in Pakistan have been screaming hoarse about honour killings; it is an epidemic, it takes place not only in towns, but in major cities as well,” she said. "What are we going to do as a nation? "It's upon the lawmakers to punish these people. We need to start making examples of people. It appears it is very easy to kill a woman in this country - and you can walk off scot-free." In the meantime, the state has become a party in the investigations into Baloch’s murder. Her brothers, parents and Mufti Abdul Qavi are all being investigated. Invoking sections 311 and 305 of the Pakistan Penal Code, it makes her murder unpardonable under the country’s Qisas and Diyat laws.   Her murder has also divided opinion, with some segments of the society calling it an unlawful act that should be tried and punished while others calling it justified since Baloch was wilffuly being scandalous and promoting vulgarity in the society.

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