Police say the social media starlet was strangled by her brother in apparent ‘honor killing.’
A controversial model known for her suggestive photos and videos was allegedly killed by her brother in Multan, police said on Saturday.
Qandeel Baloch, 26, a Kim Kardashian-type celebrity who was popular on social media for her semi-nude photos, was killed by her brother after she refused his warnings to stop uploading photos and videos online, according to police.
“Her father contacted police in Muzaffarabad and told officials that she had been strangled to death by her brother. Based on the information available to us, it appears to have been an honor killing,” said senior official Azhar Ikram. “She had come to her parents’ house last week for Eid holidays,” he said, adding that she had not requested any extra security or police protection ahead of her murder.
“Police have been sent to the crime scene to recover the body and collect evidence so we can form a conclusion on what actually happened,” the police official said. Her brother fled the scene of the crime and is currently at large, police added.
The apparent “honor killing” follows Baloch being brought before court for bringing “shame” to the ‘Baloch’ name. The court petition claimed Baloch was not of Baloch ethnicity and had no right to use it as her surname. In recent weeks, she had also come under scrutiny in media after it was reported that Baloch had been married thrice and had a son.
Baloch, whose real name was Fouzia Azeem, was a divisive figure in Pakistan, where her suggestive selfies subjected her to regular misogynistic abuse online. But she had a large fan following as well, mostly among the country’s youth who appreciated her outspoken attitude and refusal to bow before conservative societal conventions.
Up to 100 officers were gathered outside her family’s home in Muzzafarabad, an AFP reporter there said. Five ambulances were also parked nearby. “My daughter was innocent, we are innocent, we want justice, why was my daughter killed?” Baloch’s father Azeem Ahmad told reporters there.
Hundreds of women across Pakistan are murdered every year, often by relatives, for ‘honor.’ The killers often walk free because of a law that allows relatives of the victim to forgive the murderer.
Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, whose documentary on the subject, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness won an Oscar earlier this year, told AFP the murder would make women feel less safe. “I really feel that no woman is safe in this country, until we start making examples of people, until we start sending men who kill women to jail, unless we literally say there will be no more killing and those who dare will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.”
Obaid-Chinoy’s film was hailed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who in February vowed to push through anti-honor killing legislation. No action has been taken since then, despite a fresh wave of attacks on women recently that have been roundly and loudly condemned by activists.
“Not only does the bill need to go through but the cases of honor killings all need to be expedited and we start sending people to jail,” said Obaid-Chinoy. “Activists have screamed themselves hoarse. When will it stop?”