Pakistanis reacted in shock and horror at the news Wednesday of a brother shooting his sister in an open court in Hyderabad because the family opposed her marriage, according to a report on Sunday in The Guardian.
Raheela Sehto was shot in a packed courtroom in the city of Hyderbad in an ‘honor killing’ after enraging her family by marrying Zulfiqar Sehto without their permission.
The family reacted to the marriage by filing a claim with the local police accusing her 30-year-old husband of kidnapping her.
Her uncle had tried to strangle her to death with a scarf at an earlier appearance at the high court in July and the couple had appealed to the court for its protection.
During a court hearing, Javed Iqbal Shaikh, Raheela’s brother and lawyer, produced a gun he had snuck into the courtroom and shot her straight in the left side of her head and then turned to shoot her husband but was overpowered by the police.
“Before she fell to the ground, my wife was looking straight at me,” Sehto told the Guardian.
Shaikh had avoided security checks before the hearing, including two sets of metal detectors and body searchers because he was one out of a group of lawyers that have been known to assault policemen violently.
“The lawyers, they don’t like to be searched,” Amjad Shaikh, a police superintendent in Hyderabad, told The Guardian. “Security is a little bit of a problem there.”
Honor killings have become increasingly common in Pakistan, particularly if families believe their daughters have disgraced them. There have been reported cases of such killings in police custody in the past, however, it is reportedly the first time an incident like this has happened in an open court.
Police arrested Shaikh and a case has been filed against him; the four other family members who attended the court hearing with him have also been charged for the killing.
Shaikh gave interviews to journalists while in custody, telling them that he had “lost my mind”, according to The Express Tribune.
“I did that in rage because she had dishonored the family.”
Zulifqar Saheto was Raheela’s neighbor and had grown up with her in the small town of Behlani; he had wooed Raheela over the years, although mostly through secret mobile phone conversations. He had proposed to her three times previously but her family had rejected the offers.
“Raheela had made it clear to her family that she will marry me,” the widower told The Express Tribune. “However, she wanted to make her family agree to her marrying me. It was when her family arranged another proposal for her from Rahimyar Khan in Punjab that we decided to elope and marry in court.”
In March this year, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said at least 943 women were killed in 2011 for damaging their family name. The number marks an increase of more than 100 on 2010 reported The Telegraph.
“Throughout the year, women were callously killed in the name of ‘honor’ when they went against family wishes in any way, or even on the basis of suspicion that they did so … Women were sometimes killed in the name of ‘honor’ over property disputes and inheritance rights,” the report stated.