After Pakistani social media star and self-proclaimed feminist Qandeel Baloch was murdered this week in an apparent honor killing, reports started to swirl that her own brother had carried out the tragic act in response to Baloch’s photos and videos that she posted online. In the aftermath of her death her brother fled law enforcement and was briefly in hiding until police captured him and arrested him for the crime. Now, he is speaking out about his actions for the first time and does not seem at all repentant about what he did.
In a police press conference held after his arrest, Waseem Azeem (Qandeel’s legal name was Fouzia Azeem) not only admitted to the crime but asserted that “now everybody will remember [him] with honour” for his actions. As had been suspected before his arrest, Azeem was upset about Qandeel’s modeling and action on social media. He had decided to kill her months ago after his sister posted videos of herself with Pakistani religious scholar Mufti Abdul Qavi, but was “waiting for the best moment.”
Furthermore, Azeem admits that he is a drug addict but maintains that he was in full control of his mind when he killed his sister by slipping her a sleeping pill and then strangling her in their home. Despite Qandeel being a “family breadwinner” Azeem found her actions “unbearable” and even says if he didn’t kill her he was considering committing suicide to end the embarrassment he was feeling on behalf of his entire family.
Honor crimes are common in Pakistan, with more than 1,000 of them reported in 2015 alone. Waseem’s statement that “girls are born only to stay at home and to bring honour to the family by following family traditions but Qandeel had never done that” provides some insight as to how serious the limitations on Pakistani women are and the violence that stems from misogynistic laws and cultural policies. The frequency with which crimes and murders like this happen in certain countries does not make Qandeel’s death at the hands of her own family and less tragic or horrifying.