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Pakistani Social Media Star Murdered by Brother in Honor Killing

Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani social media star, was strangled to death by her own brother in an alleged "honor killing." 

Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was killed Friday by her brother for her outspoken nature and refusal to follow tradition, merely hours after she’d taken to Facebook about her stance on feminism.

“I believe I am a modern day feminist,” she wrote. “I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don't think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society. I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM.” [sic]

No Matter how many times i will be pushed down under,,But I m Fighter I will Bounce back..#Qandeel #Baloch is "One Women Army".. #Qandeel #Baloch inspiration to those ladies who are treated badly and dominated by the society..I will Keep On Achieving and I know You will Keep On Hating..DAMN but Who Cares #Qandeel #Baloch #Women #Power #Inspiration #Society #Pakistani #Media #Bigg #Boss #Season10 #BB10 #Bigg_Boss_Season10 #Bollywood #Colors_TV

Posted by Qandeel Baloch Official on Friday, 15 July 2016

Qandeel Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, had tens of thousands of social media followers and was seen as a controversial figure in the conservative Pakistan. Adored by her fans, she was also condemned by many others who found her sultry poses and boundary-pushing outfits inappropriate. Her brother admitted to the horrific crime with an unapologetic statement, saying "Girls are born to stay home and follow traditions. My sister never did that."

Though Baloch’s ascent to fame was polarizing, Pakistani news site Dawn.com reports that the popularity of her videos are “evidence [of the] frustrations of many young people tired of being told how to behave.” She challenged tradition by posting risqué photos and provocative videos, including several modeling shots and a recent music video titled “Ban” that addressed her controversial status in the media.

Many young Pakistanis appreciated her outspoken nature and willingness to “change orthodox beliefs.” She continued to encourage her followers to be to true to themselves despite societal pressures, even taking to Facebook to describe herself a “modern-day feminist” after receiving death threats.

In the weeks before Baloch’s death, she had requested armed security from three government agencies, saying she feared for her life. Her brother had allegedly threatened her to stop her from posting photos to her social media accounts, believing that her posts were “bringing dishonor to their family.” He has since confessed to her murder, saying in a video posted on CNN that he's proud he killed his sister, and claiming he did it because "girls are born to stay home."

According to Pakistani rights group the Aurat Foundation, more than 1,000 young women are killed in the name of “honor” in Pakistan each year. The widespread interpretation of sharia, or Islamic, law in Pakistan has resulted in an increase of honor killings in recent years, where the death of the “dishonorable”—usually carried out by husbands or relatives—serves as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.

Pakistani law allows a victim’s family to forgive their killer, but with “honor killings,” most of the time the woman’s killer is her family, allowing the family to nominate someone to commit the murder and subsequently forgive them. Baloch’s murder adds to the death toll of hundreds of Pakistani women killed for the sake of their family reputation.

Thousands in Pakistan and around the world are speaking out against Baloch’s murder and the twisted phenomenon that’s plaguing the nation.

In 2015, the documentary “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” won an Oscar for its depiction of the victim of an honor killing, who was sentenced to death for falling in love and eloping.

For more information about the rights of Pakistani women, sign the Change.org petition and visit www.equalitynow.org/.

Bethany Lozier

Bethany is a content creation guru at the Meredith Corporation. Her main passions include fangirling over Leonardo DiCaprio, French culture and fashion. When not perusing the Internet or writing, she can be found reading magazines and socializing with the best of 'em.

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