Two sisters with dual Pakistani and Spanish citizenship were reportedly killed by their husbands, uncle and brother in a so-called ‘honour’ killing a day after they were tricked into traveling to Pakistan.
Aneesa Abbas, 24, and Arooj Abbas, 21, were strangled and shot dead on Friday after arriving in the eastern Gujarat city with their mother, Azra Bibi.
It is understood that upon arriving in Pakistan the sisters were pressured to help their husbands, whom they were forced to marry last year, to apply for spousal visas so they can travel to Europe.
It is alleged that Aneesa and Arooj were killed when they refused to help. Both women wanted to divorce their husbands, who were also their cousins, so that they could remarry in Spain.
“Investigations have confirmed that the two sisters were killed in the name of ‘honor’,” said investigating police officer Muhammad Akhtar.
Police said the women’s husbands, Hassan Aurengzeb and Atiq Hanif, their uncle, Hanif Goga, and their brother, Shehryar Abbas, were arrested and confessed to the murder. Two other men were arrested in connection with the attack.
Hundreds of women are murdered each year by family members in Pakistan in so-called “honour killings” for violating conservative norms governing relationships between women, despite 2016 legislation ending loopholes in the law that allowed perpetrators to roam freely in the country’s deeply patriarchal society.
Earlier that year, the murder of Qandeel Baloch, known as “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian”, by her brother Waseem Azeem sparked national outrage and demands for a change in the law. Azeem was sentenced to life imprisonment but was acquitted in February this year after his parents forgave him.
Samar Minallah, a human rights activist, said: “This is yet another brutal murder of innocent girls raised in another culture that values basic human rights, but treated like inanimate objects by their own families.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent rights group, more than 470 cases of “honour” killings were reported in the country in the past year.
It is not uncommon for parents with dual citizenship to force their daughters to marry cousins in Pakistan to obtain EU visas. A report on forced marriage, published by the UK government in 2020, revealed nearly 40% of cases involved British citizens taken to Pakistan marry against their will.
In 2016, Samia Shahid, a British Pakistani beautician from Bradford in the north of England, was raped and killed on her return to Jhelum district after marrying a man outside the family. She had previously left her first husband, a first cousin from their village in Pakistan. Her ex-husband and father were arrested for her murder. Six years later, the case is ongoing.