After Pakistani model, actress, feminist activist and social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was found dead on Saturday at her family home in the central city of Multan, her brother on Sunday (July 17) confessed to strangling her to death for "family honor" because she posted what he considered "shameful" pictures on Facebook. Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, was buried Sunday.
Baloch, 26, shot to fame through social media postings that would be considered tame by Western standards, reports The Associated Press, but were perceived as scandalous by many in deeply conservative Pakistan.
Police arrested Baloch's brother, Waseem Azeem, 25, and presented him before the media in Multan, where he confessed to killing her, according to Fox News. He said people had taunted him over the photos, and he found the social embarrassment "unbearable."
Nearly 1,000 women are murdered in Pakistan each year for violating conservative norms on love, marriage and public behavior, according to ABC News. The so-called "honor killings" are often carried out by family members. Such killings are considered murder. But Islamic law in Pakistan allows a murder victim's family to pardon the killer, which often allows those convicted of honor killings to escape punishment.
Baloch stirred controversy by posting pictures online taken with a prominent Muslim cleric, Mufti Abdul Qavi, earlier this month, in a Karachi hotel room during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. In one picture, she is wearing the cleric's trademark fur-lined hat. Qavi maintained he only met with her to discuss the teachings of Islam. But the government suspended Qavi and removed him from the official moon-sighting committee that determines when Ramadan starts and ends in accordance with the Islamic lunar calendar.
A video of her dancing to a popular rap song was widely circulated, and at the time of her death she had 40,000 followers on Twitter and 700,000 on Facebook. In postings and public comments, she presented herself as a symbol of female empowerment
"I was determined either to kill myself or kill her," Azeem told The Associated Press as he was being led away.
He said even though Baloch was the main breadwinner for the family, he slipped her sedatives the night before and then strangled her in her sleep. "Money matters, but family honor is more important," said Azeem.
Regional police chief Sultan Taimuri said authorities will seek the maximum punishment for Azeem, without providing further details.
Qandeel Baloch's father, Mohammad Azeem, told reporters, according to Dawn newspaper, "She supported all of us, including my son who killed her."
Baloch's funeral was held near her family home in Dera Ghazi Khan, reports BBC. Media reports said thousands of people attended, including rights campaigners. She was buried at her ancestral graveyard.
Baloch's parents lodged a report with police accusing her brother of killing her, and another brother of being complicit, according to Dawn. Mohammad Azeem said his sons were unhappy over "her achievements" and turned against her even though she supported them, the paper added.