The brother of murdered social media star Qandeel Baloch has been freed by a Pakistan appeals court, three years after he was convicted of killing her for “bringing dishonor” to the family.
Baloch’s murder in 2016 sparked a national outcry and promoted changes in the country’s so-called ‘honor killing’ laws.
The court order is yet to be made public.
Waseem Baloch was arrested within days of the murder and confessed on video to killing his 25-year-old sister at her family home in the city of Multan in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Despite his admission, he pleaded not guilty in court and in 2019 was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Pakistan’s so-called ‘honor killings’ typically involve the murder of a woman by a relative who believes she has brought shame upon the family. At the time of Qandeel Baloch’s murder, Pakistan law allowed a murder victim’s family to pardon a convicted killer.
Rights activists feared this law would be used to spare Waseem Baloch.
Three months after Qandeel Baloch’s death, Pakistan lawmakers responded to the public outcry and passed legislation against the controversial practice.
But Waseem Baloch’s acquittal Monday has outraged women’s rights activists in Pakistan.
Qandeel Baloch gained both fame and notoriety in inherently conservative and patriarchal Pakistan for her bold, sassy and increasingly political social media posts.
She pouted into the camera, discussed hairstyles and shared cooing confessions.
Qandeel referred to herself as a “modern day feminist” and had nearly 750,000 followers on Facebook.
But in Pakistan, her antics pushed the boundaries of what is considered acceptable.
In a confession video, Waseem Baloch said he was “proud” of killing his sister, adding that having his friends share her pictures and video clips was “too much” for him.
“I drugged her first, then I killed her,” he said. “Girls are born to stay home and follow traditions. My sister never did that.”