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‘Would You Like Dinner Before I Kill You?’

(Illustrative photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gilrovina)
(Illustrative photo: Wikimedia Commons / Gilrovina)

A pair of grisly honor killings have shocked even the most hardened in Pakistan, after a teenage couple in Karachi was tied down and repeatedly electrocuted for the crime of wanting to marry one other, The Guardian reported.

Ghani Rehman, 17, repeatedly asked for permission to marry Bakhtaja, 15, but was refused. The couple had known each other since childhood. Ghani was described as a hard-working, well-mannered young man who held down two jobs. When reporters tried to find out details about Bakhtaja, they were told by one of the men in the neighborhood, “If I knew, I would be dead, too” – a testimony to the areas conservative norms.

Not unusual in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan where middle-class, secular values are the norm, this neighborhood was run by tribal customs.

Police, neighbors and relatives related the events that led to the killings, the brutality of which shocked even the most hardened citizens used to the unfortunately common occurrence of honor killings as well as severe domestic violence.

After the last refusal for permission to marry, the couple decided to elope. Reaching Hyderabad, three hours away, Bakhtaja received a phone from her father saying the families had changed their minds and would allow the two to return safely and marry.

And that may have been true at one point. The fathers of the couple originally agreed to a secret settlement (Bakhtaja’s father agreed to give Ghani’s father two of his daughters, a cow and money for the wedding). However, an older relative of Ghani, Sirtaj Khan, found out about the deal and demanded the couple be killed to set an example.

Honor prevailed and the trap was set. When they returned, Bakhtaja was put to death first. Strapped to a bed, she was electrocuted with live wires for 10 minutes before she died.

Ghani had an entire day after that to anticipate his fate. The evening he was to be killed, his father asked him if he would like to eat one last dinner together. Ghani declined.

After dinner, with the help of an uncle, he was tied down and electrocuted like his bride. After more than 10 minutes of electricity being shot through his body, he was still alive. At that point, his uncle stepped in and strangled him.

Ghani’s father and two uncles were subsequently arrested.  Sirtaj Khan, the relative who insisted the couple be killed, escaped to Afghanistan.

Ten days later, monsoon rains pounded Karachi. Dozens of people were electrocuted to death, a fate local women contended was divine retribution for the killings.

In an unrelated incident, a woman from a village near Faisalabad who married the husband of her choice was ordered to be gang raped by the village council of elders. Three men on the council carried out the punishment themselves.

The police refused to register the crime after repeated efforts by the woman to get them to do so.

For more information about honor violence, watch the following clip from Clarion Project’s film “Honor Diaries:”

 

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