When I heard the news this morning that Pakistani woman and social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch had been strangled by her brother in a suspected ‘honour’ killing, I was angry.
Angry that yet another woman has been brutally slaughtered in a senseless murder.
Angry that yet another man has decided that he is entitled to snuff the life out of an innocent family member. As though his own wounded pride and delicate ego takes priority over her most basic human right: the right life.
Angry too, that due to the misogynistic lawmakers in Pakistan, Qandeel’s brother may be entitled to escape punishment, so long as his family say they forgive him.
And if that’s not bad enough, certain men and women have taken to social media to defend the murder, claiming that the victim deserved it. That because she was known as the “Kim Kardashian of Pakistan”, her death was somehow warranted.
Qandeel Baloch was not afraid to be different. Post continues after video…
The horrific fact is that around the world, 5000 innocent women will be viciously killed each year in suspected ‘honour’ attacks. In Pakistan alone, 1000 women will be murdered in this way.
These murders are so frighteningly common, that we cannot ever hope to learn all the names of all the victims. Indeed were Qandeel not a social media star, we would almost certainly not have learnt her name either.
And it’s sickening.
Sickening that for some men, having a sister who is considered independent, strong, beautiful and feminist is even thought of as a shameful liability, rather than a source of pride.
Sickening that regardless of whether you live in Pakistan or Hollywood, if you are a famous woman who posts alluring selfies on social media, you will likely be threatened with death on social media for doing so.
And sickening that in some places, these threats are not idle ones. That right now, there are countless women living with a genuine fear and terror that they might be tortured or killed at the hands of those who are supposed to love them most: their own family.
In one of her last Facebook posts, Baloch wrote about her support of women’s rights.
Yet despite all this, in 2014, the Australian Festival of Dangerous Ideas decided to invite Sydney based speaker Uthman Badar to do a talk titled “Honour Killings Are Morally Justified”.
As if it were somehow edgy and daring of the St James Ethics Centre to even suggest there is a debate. As if entertaining a predominantly white, middle class audience with a discussion about vulnerable women’s murders wouldn’t be a disgusting insult to every woman who has ever been murdered in this way, and every woman who lives with the fear of that murder.
No. ‘Honour’ killings are not a ‘dangerous idea’. They are a deadly one. And there is nothing ‘honourable’ about any culture where women are being murdered to restore male pride.