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Brother of murdered Pak social media star jailed
International

Brother of murdered Pak social media star jailed

Agency News

Islamabad, Sep 27 : Three years after her murder, the brother of Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch has been jailed for life.

Ms Baloch, 26, was strangled in July 2016, in a murder that shocked Pakistan and the wider world. A court found her brother Mohammad Waseem guilty on Friday, said a BBC News report. The court has acquitted all the other men charged in connection with the killing, including religious scholar, Mufti Abdul Qavi.

Waseem had initially confessed to the killing, saying she had brought shame on his family, but later changed his plea.

Who was Qandeel Baloch?
Qandeel Baloch was Pakistan's first social media star. She was born Fouzia Azeem, and came from a poor family in a town about 400km (248 miles) south-west of Lahore.

Often dubbed the Kim Kardashian of Pakistan, she had hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. She posted images and videos of herself twerking and singing, breaking strict taboos in socially conservative Pakistan. As she became popular, she was paid to promote products on her social media accounts and appeared in music videos.

Following her rise to fame in 2014, it emerged that she had been married as a teenager and had a child. But she claimed her husband was a "savage man" who abused her and she fled with her son, residing for some time in a refuge.
However, she was unable to support the baby and returned him to her husband, who has always denied treating her badly. By 2015, she was named one of the top 10 Googled people in Pakistan.

As she continued uploading controversial posts, she was warned by her digital branding consultant that she was going too far. Junaid Qasi told the Guardian that she refused to listen.

What happened to Qandeel Baloch?
Ms Baloch was invited to meet renowned religious scholar Mufti Abdul Qavi in Karachi during the holy month of Ramadan. She posted selfies with him to her social media accounts. In one image, she is wearing his signature sheepskin cap.

He was criticised for behaving inappropriately by associating with a disreputable woman. He was humiliated and his membership of a religious committee revoked. Soon after, Ms Baloch was found dead in her bed. Her brother Waseem said he drugged and then strangled her to death "for dishonouring the Baloch name".

Another six men were arrested for her killing, while a seventh - believed to be another brother - absconded. Ms Baloch's father, Muhammad Azeem, said his daughter had been his "best friend", but described his son as "crazed".

Despite this, Ms Baloch's parents told the court they had decided to pardon their sons.

What is an 'honour killing'?
It is the killing of a family member who is perceived to have brought dishonour upon relatives. Campaign group Human Rights Watch says the most common reasons are the victim refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault or rape or having sexual relations outside marriage.

However, killings can be carried out for more trivial reasons, like dressing inappropriately or being disobedient. Cases of women being killed for "dishonouring" their family are commonplace in Pakistan. The Human Rights Commission Pakistan recorded 15,222 honour crimes against men and women between 2004 and 2016.

Women's rights in Pakistan
According to the World Economic Forum, Pakistan is the second worst country in the world in terms of gender parity. Women hold fewer than 7% of managerial positions. Early marriage remains a serious issue in Pakistan, with 21pc of girls in the country marrying before the age of 18, and 3pc marrying before 15.

More than five million primary school age children in Pakistan are not in school, most of them are girls, according to Human Rights Watch. There were 35,935 female suicides between 2014 and 2016 according to figures by White Ribbon Pakistan. (UNI)