Pakistan Family Orders Daughter Killed Over Divorce

Samia Imran was seeking a divorce and attempting to start a new life when a hit man shot and killed her inside the office of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Asma Jehangir. Jehangir’s office is located in Lahore, the capital city of the Pakistani state of Punjab. Imran’s lawyer and sister of Jehangir, human rights activist Hina Gilani, witnessed the shooting.

The gunman shot two bullets, one of which was intended for Samia Imran and one of which was intended for Gilani. Imran was hit and killed, but Gilani escaped unharmed. The hit man, who allegedly was hired by Imran’s parents and an uncle, was later shot and killed by a police constable stationed at the office.

The twenty-seven-year-old murder victim had traveled to Lahore from her home in Peshawar to obtain a divorce. She had been staying at a women’s shelter and had told Gilani that she feared her family would kill her because of her decision to obtain a divorce from her husband, whom she claimed was abusive and had a drug problem. Imran did not trust her family and had refused visits from all family members except her mother, who accompanied the hit man to the office where Samia Imran was murdered.

In Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, girls lose much of their mobility and independence at puberty. Once a girl reaches sexual maturity, she is married to a man of her husband’s choosing, forced to wear a veil in public, and largely confined within her new home.

Tribal laws followed by many in the Northwest Frontier Province encourage male family members to kill female relatives who are believed to have disgraced a family. A woman seeking a divorce is just one potential victim of these laws.


DAWN newspapers - April 6, 1999

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