Pakistani social media icon, Qandeel Baloch was reported dead by her parents in Multan, the latest in a horrific string of so called “honor killings”
- The controversial star had seeked protection due to death threats
- Qandeel was visiting her sick father in Multan
- Waseem, her brother, strangled her in her sleep and fled the scene
- Police found him late Sunday
- Waseem proudly confessed to the murder of his sister blaming it on her social media posts
Qandeel rose to fame through her ‘explicit’ Instagram and Facebook posts. The social media star offered to strip online if the Pakistani cricket team were to win a match in WT20. Such expression in Pakistan, a conservative country, is seen as completely unacceptable and her posts were mostly ridiculed or cause for rage within the country. Comments on her posts range from mocking to brutal death threats as she was seen as an embarrassment and disgrace to the traditional image of Pakistani girls as well as Islam.
Many controversies surrounded the Pakistani icon that brought her further into the harsh gaze of the media. Qandeel posted some selfies with a renowned Islamic cleric, Mufti Abdul Qavi. The two were alone during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan, Qandeel’s posts of the two caused outrage throughout the country. Mufti Abdul Qavi was suspended from his position in the religious committees Ruet-i-Hilal and National Ulema Mushaikh Council. This incident proved to be the turning point in Qandeel’s life as her brother admits that after viewing the pictures and the model’s sharp and derogatory comments about the Mufti he had decided he had to kill her,
“Qandeel was bringing dishonour to the Baloch people and I could not tolerate that. Also, her issue with the clergyman had increased our troubles”
Her fame led to her life being completely exposed and the Pakistani media chose to continue digging in to her personal affairs. It came to light that the model/icon has previously been married and had a child. Qandeel was forced to address the issue and she recounted the forced and abusive marriage. She claimed she had no other choice to return her son to her ex-husband since she could not afford his medical bills.
Qandeel Baloch’s death has caused a national as well as international outrage as it highlights the epidemic of ‘honor killings’ taking place within the country. Qandeel’s fame allowed for more publicity and awareness to be raised for the issue. Activists are calling for the anti-honor killing bill to be passed that protects victims like Qandeel. Oscar winner, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and other notable personalities condemned the murder and urged for more legal protection.
However, Qandeel’s death seems to have highlighted another issue concerning the mindset of conservatives that may have made Qandeel more vulnerable to attacks. During her life, there was a completely different attitude towards her that was purely negative. She was not associated with female empowerment or independence prior to her death. Her social media pages were viewed as vulgar and as a joke. However, after her death, social media was flooded with tributes for the icon praising her for her ‘bold’ lifestyle after her death. Qandeel’s lifestyle and her means of expression were different. Her audience hurled abuses and remarks that exposed her to a violent outcome. In a patriarchal country already plagued by this notion of killing for ‘honor’, Qandeel’s death was saddening but not shocking. The need for legal protection for victims like this is more necessary than ever. Her struggles in an abusive marriage are finally being acknowledged rather than shunned. Her work is now being seen as empowering and rebellious against a patriarchal society.
At the same time, there are still those who have stuck by their original stances and gone as far as praising her brother for his actions.
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