PESHAWAR – Pakistani police have arrested the nephew of two teenage girls whom he is suspected of murder after a video of the girls kissing a man went viral on social media, officials said Thursday.
Jasima Bibi and Saeeda Bibi, sisters aged 16 and 18, were murdered on May 14 in the former tribal district of North Waziristan in Pakistan’s conservative northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which police said was an “honor killing” after their relatives watched the video online.
“The prime suspect has confessed to the murder during investigations and now we will bring him to trial,” senior provincial police officer Abdul Ghafoor Afridi told Reuters.
The suspect is the girls’ cousin.
Police had previously arrested the man seen in the video kissing the girls, along with another man whose cell phone was used to make the video, who the police say is the one who uploaded it on social media.
The girls’ father and uncle had been arrested on suspicion of hiding the murder.
Police said the girls’ relatives would not file charges, so the state became the complainant in the case.
Every year, thousands of cases of violence against women believed to have “damaged” family honor are reported in Pakistan and many more go unreported, rights organizations say.
In addition to murder charges, the police also use laws specifically designed to combat “ honor killings ” introduced in 2016, according to a Reuters expense report.
Suspects often escape punishment because they are relatives of the victims and use a loophole allowing charges to be withdrawn when two parties come to an agreement about the murder.
In 2016, Pakistan has been changed laws for that loophole to enable the state law to close and prosecutors life in prison to search for suspects of ‘honor killings’.