A Pakistani model, who was known for her provocative appearances on social media, was allegedly killed by her brother, who had been forcing her to quit modeling and stop posting photos and videos on Facebook.
Police said Saturday that 26-year-old Qandeel Baloch was "strangled to death" at her residence in Multan, a city located in the Punjab province of Pakistan, on Friday night in what is suspected to be an “honor killing.” According to police, her brother fled after killing Baloch, whose real name is Fauzia Azeem.
"Her father Azeem informed the police that his son Waseem has strangled Qandeel," a police spokeswoman told Reuters. "Apparently, it is honor killing but further investigations would reveal the real motives behind this murder."
Baloch, who was worried about her safety and wanted to leave Pakistan, had reportedly travelled with her family from the city of Karachi to Muzzafarabad village in central Punjab province for the recent Eid holiday.
— Ali Salman Alvi (@alisalmanalvi) July 16, 2016
Three weeks ago, she had written to the country’s interior minister, the director general of the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) and the senior superintendent of Islamabad asking them to provide security to her, Dawn, a Pakistani English-language newspaper, reported.
According local media reports, Baloch once worked as a bus hostess before she shot to fame in Pakistan in 2014 after a video of her pouting for the camera went viral. Baloch, who was a social media sensation and highly controversial because of her bold appearances, had also faced severe criticism for being vulgar and allegedly distorting Pakistan’s image.
— Sharmeen Obaid (@sharmeenochinoy) July 16, 2016
She didn't conform to the norm, outspoken& unapologetic, silenced 4 ever. Shocked & saddened at #QandeelBaloch's murder
— Sharmila faruqi (@sharmilafaruqi) July 16, 2016
Baloch was recently trolled on Twitter over videos of her twerking to a song. She was also in news recently for posting selfies with a leading cleric, who was later dropped from his post as the head of a religious organization.
In March this year, Baloch vowed to perform a striptease if Pakistan’s national Cricket team won a match against its Indian counterpart at the T20 World Cup.
“No matter how many times I will be pushed down under... I am a fighter, I will bounce back,” she wrote in one of her last Facebook posts. "Qandeel Baloch [is an] inspiration to ladies who are treated badly... I know you will keep on hating, who cares?"
In Pakistan, hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killing incidents. The country’s independent Human Rights Commission said in its annual report that 1,096 women were killed in Pakistan in 2015 by their relatives who believed they had dishonored their families.
"The predominant causes of these killings in 2015 were domestic disputes, alleged illicit relations and exercising the right of choice in marriage," the report said.
Nearly 1,000 women died in honor-related attacks in 2014, up from 869 a year earlier. Analysts say the actual number of such murders is likely much higher since some deaths are covered up as accidents or suicides.
In 2014, a Pakistani court sentenced four people to death for the honor killing of a pregnant woman who married a man against her family's wishes.
In 2013, three women — a mother and her two daughters — were allegedly killed by the woman’s stepson, who thought they had brought shame and dishonor to the family.