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Pakistani woman suspected of 'burning daughter alive for eloping'

Published 08/06/2016

Hassan Khan shows the picture of his wife Zeenat Rafiq on a mobile phone at his home in Lahore, Pakistan (AP)
Hassan Khan shows the picture of his wife Zeenat Rafiq on a mobile phone at his home in Lahore, Pakistan (AP)

A woman in Pakistan is suspected of burning her 17-year-old daughter alive to punish her for marrying against the family's wishes.

Police said Zeenat Rafiq had been tied to a bed and drenched with kerosene before being set on fire.

Neighbours in the eastern city of Lahore came running when they heard the screams, but family members kept them from entering the house, said Nighat Bibi, who lives nearby.

The police eventually arrived and found the charred body near a staircase. They arrested the mother, Parveen, soon thereafter.

The victim's husband, Hassan Khan, told reporters the two had been "in love since our school days" but the family had rejected several marriage proposals, forcing them to elope last month.

He showed an affidavit of consent signed by his wife before a magistrate. He also showed mobile phone photos of a smiling Zeenat wearing a red dress.

Sheikh Hammad, a local police official, said Parveen confessed to killing her daughter with the help of her son Ahmar. He quoted the woman as saying, "I don't have any regrets."

Another police officer, Ibadat Nisar, said the body showed signs of beating and strangulation.

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 school teacher, Maria Bibi, was set on fire for refusing to marry a man twice her age.

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.

Mr Khan, the husband of the woman killed in Lahore, said her mother and uncle had visited her three days ago to try to persuade her to return home and have a marriage ceremony with the family, so that she would not be branded as someone who had eloped. He recalled his wife telling him: "Don't let me go, they will kill me."

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