Baloch, who had been dubbed ‘Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian’ was drugged and strangled to death by her brother Waseem Azeem, in what he called ‘an honour killing’. According to Azeem, his sister had ‘dishonoured’ their family by uploading what he found to be inappropriate images and videos of herself to social media.
Baloch was often referred to as controversial and outspoken, due to her provocative selfies and feministic statements. She was praised by many for not conforming to the strict regulations, which exist in Pakistan’s patriarchal society. Many respected her for standing up for women’s sexual freedom all over the world.
Often criticising the media for not speaking enough about the “empowerment of women”, Baloch saw herself as a “modern day feminist” and a “voice for ladies who are treated badly”.
Arguably, her passion to fight for women’s rights may have stemmed from her experience of being denied freedom when she was forced into an abusive marriage, at the mere age of 17. Throughout the marriage Baloch was a victim of domestic violence, her partner once even threatening to “burn [her] face because [she was] so beautiful”. Baloch ended the marriage after having a child at age 19.
Three weeks prior to her murder, Baloch had requested police protection after receiving death threats on social media. However, little was done in regards to this, consequently leading to her death.
Following Baloch’s passing, tributes flooded in on social media. Well known Pakistani journalist and activist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy reflected on the death, asking, “How many women have to die before we pass the Anti Honour Killing bill?”
Though, the praise was short lived as many users sparked controversy by commenting that Baloch “was a disgrace [to] the country” and “deserved” to be killed.
After being arrested Waseem Azeem expressed no remorse, saying he was “proud” of his actions. He has now been charged with a crime against the state, according to a police report.
What I think
Despite their culture, no woman (or man) should feel unable to express themselves. Often women, especially in repressed societies, will conform to conventions of their religion, culture etc. through fear of standing out. However, this is unfair – who gives anybody the right to prevent or punish somebody for being themselves? Nobody.
In this rare case, Qandeel Baloch was brave enough to stand up for women’s freedom. Yet, for her it ended in fatality. This leaves me wondering how fighting for equality is labelled a ‘dishonour’ but murdering is not? Punishing women for wanting equal rights is becoming far too common and quite frankly it needs to stop.