Two sisters with dual Pakistani and Spanish citizenship were allegedly killed by their husbands, uncle and brother in a so-called “honour” killing a day after they were tricked into travelling to Pakistan.
Aneesa Abbas, 24, and Arooj Abbas, 21, were strangled and shot dead on Friday after arriving in the eastern city of Gujarat with their mother, Azra Bibi.
It is understood that, on arrival in Pakistan, the sisters were pressured to help their husbands, who they were forced to marry last year, apply for spouse visas so they could travel to Europe.
It is alleged 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.
“The investigations have confirmed that both the sisters were killed in the name of ‘honour’,” 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, have been arrested and confessed to the killing. Two other men have been arrested in connection with the attack.
Hundreds of women are murdered by family members in Pakistan each year in so-called “honour” killings for violating conservative norms governing women’s relationships, despite 2016 legislation ending the loopholes in the law that allowed culprits to walk free 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 changes to the law. Azeem was sentenced to life imprisonment but was acquitted in February this year after his parents pardoned him.
Samar Minallah, a human rights activist, said: “This is yet another brutal murder of innocent girls raised in another culture valuing basic human rights, yet 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 last year.
It is not uncommon for parents with dual citizenship to force their daughters to marry cousins in Pakistan to secure European visas. A report on forced marriage, published by the UK government in 2020, found almost 40% of cases involved British citizens being taken to Pakistan to marry against their wishes.
In 2016, Samia Shahid, a British Pakistani beautician from Bradford in the north of England, was raped and killed when she returned to Jhelum district after marrying a man from 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.