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Undercovered: Pakistani Teenage Girl Burned to Death by Her Mother for Eloping

Welcome to Undercovered: our new daily feature bringing attention to excellent reporting and stories we feel deserve a larger audience.

A 17-year-old Pakistani woman was lured into a trap by her family and burned to death because she had eloped, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Zeenat Rafiq had run away from home to marry Hassan Khan, “angering her Punjabi family who were furious that she had married an ethnic Pashtun without permission,” Guardian’Jon Boone wrote from Islamabad.

Rafiq returned to her family’s home in the city of Lahore a few days after the marriage. They had contacted her and promised to throw her a proper wedding after eight days.

“After two days, she called me and said that her family had gone back on their word and asked me to come to get her,” Khan said. “But I told her to wait for the promised eight days. Then, she was killed.”

Rafiq was doused in kerosine and set on fire. Afterward, her mother reportedly went out into the streets, proclaiming that she had killed her daughter “for misbehaving and giving our family a bad name.”

Boone writes:

The case has attracted the interest of Shahbaz Sharif, the powerful chief minister of Punjab. In February Sharif’s brother, the prime minister Nawaz Sharif, pledged to close an Islamic law loophole that allows many perpetrators of so-called “honour” killings to go free.

Under current laws family members are allowed to forgive the killer, forcing prosecutors to drop even the most watertight case.

It often leads to killers walking free in situations where entire families agree that a daughter has brought shame on them.

“I myself will become a complainant in this case, and I need justice for what happened to my wife,” Khan told reporters.

The incident evokes other so-called “honor” killings in Pakistan, including two similar murders that occurred in the past three months to young women who refused to go along with arranged marriages.

“It is thought several hundred women are murdered each year in Pakistan by family members who believe their honour and standing in the community has been damaged by their daughters,” Boone writes.

Read the complete report from The Guardian here.

[image via screengrab/The Guardian]

Undercovered is a new daily feature from Mediaite, bringing attention to stories that warrant more attention. If you have an idea or a tip, please email us at [email protected]

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