Should we kill Kim Kardashian? This idea is often laughed at without any seriousness of course. But in Pakistan, it’s not just a punchline- it’s a harsh reality.
Qandeel Baloch, the beloved Pakistani celebrity fondly named “The Kim Kardashian of Pakistan,” was found brutally murdered in her family home on July 15th. The culprit? Her brother. Waseem Baloch cruelly drugged then strangled his sister. After the murder, he told the press he was “proud” to preserve the Baloch family name.
Unfortunately, this outrageous injustice isn’t a lone event. Documentary maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy defines this practice, known as honor killing, as “premeditated, cold-blooded murder…the justification given by men when they kill a woman is that she did something without permission, or that is out of bounds.”
According to BBC news, 20,000 girls worldwide are killed each year to “preserve a family’s honor,” of which 1000 of these girls are Pakistani. Almost all of these barbaric murders are committed by a relative- most commonly a brother or a parent.
Qandeel had over 800,000 followers across social media, so the outrage was instant and fiery, but for many girls this is not the case. There are many other shocking cases of murdered women who have shamed their family. Take Maria Sadaqat Abassi as an extreme case. After being doused in gasoline, she was burned alive for rejecting a marriage proposal. Or even 15-year-old Abreem who was strangled for helping a neighbor elope.
This horrific practice needs to end. Around 46-55% of Muslims in Pakistan think honor killings are justified, which is far too much. Some may use the Quran to justify the killings but it is clear that the Holy Book doesn’t agree, saying, “[w]hoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon them, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for them” – (Holy Quran, Chapter 4, Verse 93).
It is obvious this practice is cultural, for the Quran doesn’t order Muslims to kill those who “shame” their family. Women like Qandeel are shamed for embracing their sexuality- something that seems to be a universal issue. But unlike in Western countries where you might just get a hate comment on Instagram, Qandeel was strangled.
Honor killings are supposed to be taken as murder, but in Pakistan, there is no law protecting the victims, allowing the killer to slip away from being charged- even though the Prime Minister has claimed that honor killings should be abolished. In Pakistani law, clemency is allowed to be given to the killer by the victim’s family. The government is trying to rid of it by proposing a bill, and is now moving it forward to bring it to a vote.
It would be great to see some progress but it is unlikely for the bill to be favored by everyone, especially after what little was done after Qandeel’s killing. These girls deserve justice, and it is our moral responsibility to ensure it. Whether you live in America or Pakistan, the freedom of expression and right to live is unalienable. It is simply wrong to kill any girl who embraces her sexuality- even if it’s Kim Kardashian.