Admittedly, I’d never heard of Pakistan’s social media starlet Qandeel Baloch until she was killed by her brother for dishonoring her family.
Nor can I recite the names of the 1100 Pakistani women who reportedly lost their lives in 2015 for their supposed dishonor. The only positive that is derived when an atrocity such as this happens ― is that it shines a light into the darkness and opens up a significant dialogue globally.
Qandeel Baloch was 26 when she was strangled by her brother, on July, 15. Her lifeless body was found the following morning at her family home in the city of Multan.
Baloch rose to fame in 2013, when she auditioned for “Pakistan Idol.” Her audition went viral and she became an instant social media celebrity. She was known for her provocative posts and activism for women’s rights within Pakistan.
An “honor killing” is the homicide of a family member by another member. The perpetrator believes the victim has brought shame upon their family which justifies their actions.
A woman can bring shame upon her family for how she chooses to present herself to the world ― socially, visually, intellectually or sexually.
A woman can bring shame upon her family if she is a victim of sexual abuse or rape.
A woman can bring shame upon her family for sex before marriage, adultery, sexual identity or religious violations.
It angers me that the death of Qandeel Baloch may create more change in the world than her short life. According to an array of women’s advocacy groups, an estimated 20,000 women worldwide are being stoned, shot, stabbed, burned alive and strangled in the name of “family honor.”
It’s difficult to get solid statistics due to the lack of focused recording and reporting on honor killings. In places like Jordan and Iraq, killers are given a lighter sentence for these types of murders. Honor killings in the Middle East are often reported as suicides or accidents by their families and legally noted as such.
I paid a visit to Qandeel Baloch’s Facebook page in order to learn more about this young woman whose life has been cut so drastically short. No human being deserves the abuse, threats and images she receives on each post. Whether I agree with Baloch’s brand of feminism or not is another issue but one has to respect any male or female who is unapologetically themselves.
I saw comments by women encouraging Baloch to kill herself.
I saw comments with images of dead people and animals attached.
I saw a comment by a man saying he would enjoy slitting Baloch’s throat.
Little did the latter know that his “sick fantasy” would essentially become Baloch’s destiny only a few days later via the hands of her own blood. Facebook bans me from posting erotic art celebrating the beautiful female form but allows such incessant hatred?
Waseem Azeem, brother of Baloch, was arrested by police today and presented before the media where he smugly confessed to sedating his sister and strangling her while she slept.
Congratulations on the murder of your sister Waseem. You should be so incredibly proud. What an honor!
Vanessa de Largie is an actress, author, writer and sex-columnist based in Melbourne.