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Brother Of Slain Pakistani Social Media Star Gets Life For Her Murder

A family member shows pictures of Qandeel Baloch in 2016.
Asim Tanveer
A family member shows pictures of Qandeel Baloch in 2016.

The brother of Pakistani social media personality Qandeel Baloch — who confessed to her 2016 strangling death as an "honor killing" — was sentenced Friday to life in prison.

Baloch, who amassed 750,000 Facebook followers before her death, was seen as a daring social media star who challenged the conservative norms of Pakistan by posting provocative photos and writing about feminism.

According to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, Mohammed Waseem was convicted while five other suspected accomplices in Baloch's murder were acquitted by a court in the central city of Multan, where Baloch was murdered.

The verdict read that the prosecution had "proved its case beyond [the] shadow of reasonable doubt through cogent, convincing and inspiring evidence against the accused for committing willful murder of his sister Qandeel Baloch."

Waseem spoke at a news conference following his arrest in 2016. Reporters on the scene said that he expressed no remorse for killing his sister and accused her of dishonoring their family.

In a tweet posted days before her death, Baloch wrote, "As women we must stand up for ourselves. As women we must stand up for each other. I believe I am a modern day feminist."

Baloch's brother said her public image and outspoken views brought dishonor to his family and ultimately caused him to take her life.

Following Baloch's murder, feminists in the capital, Islamabad, organized demonstrations to protest honor killings, whose perpetrators were allowed to go free if the victim's family forgave the killer.

Pakistan's parliament has since changed those laws and toughened penalties for honor killings after international backlash pressured lawmakers to make changes. While killers can still be spared the death penalty, there is now a mandatory 25-year prison sentence.

Honor killings are not just limited to Pakistan. Cases have been reported in other parts of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The International Humanist and Ethical Union has noted that honor killings are rarely investigated and often go unpunished.

Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR's News Desk.

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