Journalist

Intimacy That Kills / Foreign Policy

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According to Pakistani police, this is what happened on May 27, the day a dark-eyed, pregnant woman named Farzana Parveen died: About two dozen men used sticks and bricks to beat Parveen, 25, to death just outside the High Court of the eastern city of Lahore. The attackers, who also shot her in the shin, included Parveen’s brother and father, by their own admission. They were angry that she had married a man of her own choice instead of one picked by her male relatives. Her father admitted killing his daughter without regret: She “insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent,” he told police.

At its core, the case and even its twists are symbolic of something common, insidious, and tolerated around the world: This is a case of death by patriarchy.

When the story hit the news, several strange twists quickly emerged. As Parveen was being beaten to death, her husband, Mohammad Iqbal, says he “begged [police] to help us but they said, this is not our duty. I took off my shirt (to be humble) and begged them to save her.” Yet according to Parveen’s older sister, Khalida Bibi, Iqbal was actually one of the many men who bludgeoned her to death. Then, two days later, Iqbal admitted he strangled his first wife to death six years ago. “I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love,” Iqbal told Agence France-Presse. Moreover, Parveen’s stepson, Aurangzaib, told the Telegraph that Parveen’s sister Rehana was poisoned by her family four years ago. It seems the family decided they didn’t like the in-laws they had gotten in Rehana’s arranged marriage, and therefore wanted Rehana to leave her husband. A “no” from their daughter allegedly brought on murder.

So many accusations may make this case sound too bizarre to be anything other than a terrible murder perpetrated by a dark and complex family. But, really, it’s not the soap opera it appears to be. At its core, the case and even its twists are symbolic of something common, insidious, and tolerated around the world: This is a case of death by patriarchy.

To read the rest of this article, please click over to Foreign Policy.

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