Wednesday 11 October 2023

Feared no one: The life and death of Qandeel Baloch


Qandeel Baloch–who was dubbed the Kim Kardashian of Pakistan–was strangled to death in 2016 by her brother Muhammad Waseem. The case was considered the most high-profile "honor killing" of recent years, where women are murdered by male relatives for purportedly bringing "shame" to the reputation of a family. Baloch first received recognition from the media in 2013, when she auditioned for Pakistan Idol. Her audition became popular and she became an Internet celebrity. She was one of the top 10 most searched-for persons on the internet in Pakistan and was both celebrated and criticized for the content of her videos and posts. 

Three months after Qandeel Baloch's death, Pakistan lawmakers responded to the public outcry and passed legislation against the controversial practice–a landmark ruling welcomed by rights activists and lawyers. However, Waseem has been freed by a Pakistan appeals court, three years after he was convicted of killing her for "bringing dishonor" to the family. In her posts, Qandeel Baloch had spoken of trying to change "the typical orthodox mindset" of people in Pakistan. She faced frequent abuse and death threats but continued to post pictures and videos seen as provocative. Nearly 1,000 Pakistani women are murdered by close relatives each year, in so-called honor killings, for violating conservative norms on love and marriage.

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