Relatives of a teenage Pakistani girl have apparently electrocuted her for falling in love with a man they did not approve of, police said on Sunday.
Elders and the family of Saima Bibi, 17, decided after a meeting of a village council, or panchayat, that her punishment for shaming the family should be death, police said.
“There are signs of torture and burns on her neck, back and hands which are most probably caused by electrocution,” said a police official, Zahoor Rabbani, from Bahawalpur District in east Pakistan where the alleged killing took place.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani took “serious notice” of the “the sad incident of the killing of a girl by electric current on the orders of the panchayat, and ordered police to immediately submit a report, his office said.
Bibi’s death appeared to be what is known as an honor killing. They are common in rural areas where, under centuries-old tribal customs, getting married without permission of male relatives or having sex outside marriage is deemed a serious slight to the honor of the family or the tribe.
Hundreds of people, mostly women, are killed in Pakistan in the name of “honor” every year, with the majority of victims from poor, rural families.
Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission said in its latest report that nearly 650 women were killed in that way in 2009.
Talha Nadeem, a doctor in a local hospital, said the cause of Bibi’s death had yet to be determined.
A woman is stigmatized as a kari, or “black woman,” if she is accused of having sex outside of marriage.
Her killing would be justified under tribal customs. Karo is the male version.
Bibi fell in love with her neighbor, Dilawar, and eloped to Karachi ealier this month, Rabbani said.
Her relatives persuaded her to return to her home on the promise that she would be allowed to marry him.
“Her father, uncles and other relatives later refused to fulfil her wish because they said the boy comes from a lower caste,” Rabbani said. “Her uncles and other influential people killed her when she refused to marry according to their will.”
Police raided Bibi’s village home on a tip from a villager who said her relatives were telling people that she had committed a suicide and they were burying her.
Rabbani said Bibi’s father, Abdul Majeed, and an uncle had been detained.