Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – “We firmly condemn the brutal killing of Farzana Parveen Bibi, a pregnant mother stoned to death by family members in the precinct of Lahore High Court. The old custom of crimes to avenge honour is widespread in Pakistan and it should be eradicated as soon as possible. This evil practice has no place in a modern democratic society in which the right to life for every person, man, woman or child, must be respected and defended”: Fides was told this by Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, emeritus of Lahore, following the brutal murder in the city of the woman on 27 May. Farzana was killed in broad daylight by a crowed of some 20 people because a few months ago she married Mohammad Iqbal against the will of her family.
“It is truly deplorable that Farzana Bibi was stoned to death by her father and brothers in the square in front of Lahore’s High Court, and no one, not even the police officers on duty sought to save her. The death of the child she was carrying is a further tragedy”, the Archbishop said. Archbishop Saldanha is a former (2001-2011) chairman of the Pakistani Catholic Bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace. The Commission is waging a campaign to eradicate crimes to avenge honour, a campaign which he re-launches: “It is necessary to increase awareness at every level of Pakistan society to eliminate the social evil of crimes to avenge honour: only in this way the deaths of Farzana and her innocent baby will not be in vain”. According to civil society sources in 2013 some 900 women were killed by family members because Pakistan allows crimes to avenge honour .
The practice is reported mostly in remote areas where families force daughters into marriage with men not of their choice and often many years older than the bride. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an investigation regarding responsibility on the part of the local police . (PA) (Agenzia Fides 30/5/2014)