Woman killed by her own family in 'honour killing'

Woman killed by her own family in 'honour killing'
MOURNING: Muhammed Iqbal, 45, shows a picture of his late wife Farzana Iqbal, at his residence in a village west of Lahore, Pakistan.

A Pakistani man whose pregnant wife was bludgeoned to death fondly recalled their brief life together.

Ms Farzana Iqbal, 25, was murdered by a group of assailants, including her father, on Tuesday, when she was on her way to Lahore High Court, because she fell in love with and married Mr Muhammed Iqbal instead of a cousin they had selected for her.

They had planned to argue in court that their marriage was genuine, in response to a charge of kidnapping brought by Ms Farzana's family.

"She was the best wife anyone could ask for. She never lied. She never broke her promises," Mr Iqbal, 45, told Reuters.

"That's what I loved and respected the most about her. She never let me down. But I let her down. It was my duty to save her and I let her down."

The dark tale of love, betrayal and murder has stunned people around the world, with the United Nations condemning Ms Farzana's killing.

Refusal to accept arranged marriages frequently results in "honour killings" in Pakistan.

Last year, 869 such cases were reported, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the true figure is probably higher as many cases go unreported.

The couple's relationship was itself born of a shockingly violent act - Mr Iqbal said he killed his first wife in a fight over Ms Farzana in 2009.

He said: "There was a murder case against me for three to four years but then my sons forgave me, so I went free. Then I married Farzana."

In Pakistan, victims' families are allowed to decide the fate of convicted criminals.

Mr Iqbal added that Ms Farzana had been threatened by her family several times after he told her father he was unable to pay more than 80,000 Pakistani rupees (S$1,000) to win approval for the relationship.

He said: "Our fields are side-by-side and I used to see her when she went to her field. I found her very beautiful and I fell in love with her. I asked for her hand in marriage and her family agreed at first."

On the day she was murdered, she had kissed her step-children goodbye before leaving for Lahore.

Said Mr Iqbal: "We had to leave for the hearing. She changed her clothes, put on some cream, combed her hair in front of the mirror. "She kissed her stepsons and told them: 'I'm going away. If life remains, I will see you again.'"

This article was first published on June 1, 2014.
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