Girl, 18, is sentenced to death by village elders and executed

Girl, 18, is sentenced to death by village elders and executed ‘by her own family’ in honour killing after she was seen dancing with boys in a social media video in Pakistan

  • The unnamed girl was shot on Sunday in remote village of Barsharyal in Kohistan
  • The boys in the footage have also gone into hiding, fearing reprisals 

An 18-year-old girl was allegedly killed by her own family after being sentenced to death by village elders for dancing with a boy in a viral social media video in Pakistan.

The killing on Sunday, in the village of Barsharyal in Pakistan’s mountainous Kohistan region, is being investigated by Pakistani police as a potential honour killing. 

A friend, who also appeared in the apparently edited viral footage, was sentenced to death as well but was rescued by police before it could be carried out. 

Masood Khan, deputy superintendent of police in the Kolai-Palas district, said: ‘They shot dead one of them while police rescued the second one.

‘We have launched an investigation to trace those who killed the girl and who either advised or convened a jirga (the village elders) and sentenced her to death.’

He added that nobody was above the law and all those involved in the brutal killing would be brought to justice at any cost. 

The girl was killed on Sunday in the Barsharyal village in the Kohistan’s Palas (pictured), 150km northwest of Mansehra on the order of the council of elders, known as a jirga.

The second girl, who was rescued by the pol­ice due to the expected threats to her life, was returned home with her father soon after, as a senior civil judge ruled that her life was not in any danger.

The boys who appeared in the videos have also gone into hiding, fearing reprisals.

As per local tradition, the jirga had declared those who appeared in the images circulating on social media as ‘chor’ (thieves) and issued a decree for their killing. 

Every year, hundreds of women in Muslim Pakistan are victims of honour killings, carried out by relatives professing to be acting in defence of a family’s honour often in deeply conservative rural areas, say human rights groups.

Dr Farzana Bari, a human rights activist told of her concern for the safety of the second girl. 

She believed that she would likely be murdered sooner or later and remains under serious threat, continuing that ‘she has probably been misguided by her family. Knowing the kind of mindset that exists in the area, I think this girl would be killed.’

The caretaker chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Syed Irshad Hussain Shah, said he had ordered police to arrest those responsible.

‘We are investigating,’ Khan said, adding that male relatives of the young woman were believed to be involved in the killing, as public images of women are considered taboo in the area.

Such killings are often carried out over perceived offences such as elopement, fraternisation with men outside marriage or other infractions of religious and cultural values on female modesty, despite campaigns by rights groups and tighter laws.

Last year, an appeals court acquitted the brother of a social media star, Qandeel Baloch, of her murder, a 2016 killing that sparked national outrage and changes in laws covering honour killings. 

Yet another incident occured in the same area in 2011 when a video of local girls cheering for a dancing boy went viral.

All five women in the video were allegedly killed, along with the boy’s four brothers, on the orders of a local jirga.

Those involved in the murders of the 2011 case have recently been released.  

We have been unable to reach those involved for comment. 

The investigation is ongoing and so far no arrests have been made.  

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