Teenage Girl Is Burned Alive for Eloping -- What Kind of World Do We Live In?

Pakastani Girl Burned Alive

A teenager was tied to her bed by her seemingly unremorseful mother and brother, doused in gasoline, and then burned alive in Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital. The autopsy showed that she was also asphyxiated. This occurred shortly after the teenager, named Zeenat Rafique, eloped, marrying her boyfriend Hassan Khan. The young girl (reportedly age 16, 17, or 18, depending on the source) came home in hopes of reconciling things with her family when she was violently murdered for disregarding their wishes and marrying.

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Khan, who said that Rafique actually feared for her life after eloping, told Geo News, "I only allowed her to visit her parents after her paternal uncle guaranteed her safety." 

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While the widower is determined to get the justice his late wife deserves, this sadly doesn't look like it will be the last case of such abuse.

The reality is that this was the third so-called "honor killing" in a month's time. Not to mention, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) found that 1,100 women were killed by relatives in Pakistan last year alone. Oftentimes, this is a vile form of punishment for women who have committed what families consider less than honorable acts, typically regarding love and marriage and rooted in conservative tribal traditions.

The joint director of the HRCP, Najim U Din, explained the horrible rationale for these heinous crimes to the BBC:

When women become more assertive, more reluctant to be content with submissive survival within the family -- for example when they insist on studying further, or when they want to take independent decisions about themselves -- then the society does not allow it.

Furthermore, more than 30 religious groups threatened to protest in response to the area's attempts at making the environment safer for women. When a law that frowned upon violence against women in any shape or form was proposed, the Counsel of Islamic Ideology (which advises the government) recommended that it be legal for husbands to "lightly beat" their wives -- resulting in a ton of backlash and the photo campaign #TryBeatingMeLightly. 

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Clearly, feminism is a luxury that not all women are afforded, and this unnecessary tragedy puts that in perspective more than ever.

While here in America we still have such a long way to go in the fight for women's rights, I've never truly had to fear my life as I consume myself in the feminist fight. If these extremes are the alternatives to what we as American women deal with, then I'll take our American struggle -- I'll take it because at the very least I have the opportunity to wake up and try to change it without fear of severe consequence.

At least I get to choose my life, my way.  

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Nearly every day we ban together as women protesting the bullsh*t that inevitably occurs when living in a male-dominated society -- from the most subtle slut shaming (and not-so-subtle) to the ridiculous gender pay gap. We spend our days in heated debates, seeking change and breaking barriers. But for the most part, when the day's out, we climb into our beds and release all of our worries. The feminist fight will be there for us to pick up where we left off once we rise.

If nothing else, this has opened my eyes to the level of privilege even we as American women take for granted. But, it also awakens an anger in me that only pushes me to fight harder for those who can't truly fight for themselves. 

 

Image via Rana Sajid Hussain/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

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