The death of Pakistani internet personality Qandeel Baloch may have inspired the government to finally take action on honor killings. The prime minister's daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, told Reuters a committee of lawmakers planned to consider legislation Thursday that would eliminate a technicality in the rules against honor killings, which leave about 500 people dead every year in Pakistan for bringing shame to their families.
"There is no honor in killing in the name of honor," Sharif tweeted Saturday, apparently quoting her father.
Baloch, 26, was called the "Pakistani Kim Kardashian" for her near-constant provocative posts on social media. A prominent and popular feminist in conservative Pakistan, some of Baloch's final posts were videos that showed her using a selfie stick and sitting closely to a Muslim cleric.
Police allege her brother Waseem Azeem drugged and strangled her Friday at the family home. He went on the run but later confessed to the crime, saying that "she was bringing dishonor to our family." "Girls are born to stay home and follow traditions," Azeem said after being arrested, according to CNN. "My sister never did that."
Honor killings, as they're called, aren't uncommon in Pakistan, especially because there's a law that allows suspects to avoid consequences. It works like this: "A brother ‘confesses’ to having killed his sister. His father ‘forgives’ him, or accepts blood money. No money actually changes hands, and the matter is closed," humanitarian publication IRIN wrote in 2007.
In Baloch's case, Pakistani authorities made the decision to prohibit the family from offering forgiveness, according to Reuters. Now, officials could do away with the convention entirely. Sharif told Reuters she thought the bill could come before parliament within weeks.
Her father, Nawaz Sharif, has come out in support of changing the law before. "This is totally against Islam and anyone who does this must be punished and punished very severely," he told the Guardian earlier this year.