30-year-0ld Muhammad Gullistan shot his 16-year-old niece to death after finding her home alone, listening to loud music. Due to loopholes in Pakistani law, it is possible Gullistan may never see justice.
Reuters reports that an argument began at the niece, Rehana Bibi’s, home about 56 miles southeast of Islamabad. Her parents away at work, Bibi was listening to loud music when Gullistan came to check on the home and found her. According to Qaisar Abbas, a police officer tasked with the case, “He asked her to turn the music down but she refused and they had an argument. He shot her with a 33-bore pistol.”
The Daily Mail has supplemented with other gruesome details, including that Gullistan fired two bullets at the girl–one in her head and one to her face–and that she died instantly, with no chance to be taken to the hospital for recovery. The incident occurred around 10AM, and it is not clear where Bibi’s mother would have been throughout the ordeal or even if she is alive.
The Reuters report notes that many similar incidents, in which older men in families kill younger women for assorted violations to the “honor” of the family, go unpunished in the justice system, as the family of the victim is given the opportunity to forgive and drop criminal charges on behalf of the slain woman in Pakistani law. The Daily Mail, however, notes that it appears that Bibi’s father will press charges on his brother. According to police, her father has indeed registered a case against Gullistan, and police are currently trying to find and arrest him.
The case highlights the fragility of female life in Pakistan. According to Pakistan’s Daily Times, as many as 869 cases of “honor killings” were reported in Pakistani media–a low estimate given how many such murders go unreported and without prosecution, as families defend the killers. It is difficult to predict the sort of behavior that can lead to such killings. In one instance this year, two girls were killed for dancing publicly in the rain. Several stories involve couples, in which the couple is killed for marrying each other out of love, at the objection of either or both families. One pregnant woman was killed this year for marrying the man she loved–her family filed “abduction” papers, claiming her husband had kidnapped her, and killed her when she refused the case before the court.