Why Qandeel Baloch’s Murder Shouldn’t Be Called An “Honor Killing”

Being female means that life is hard. But being a woman in Pakistan is fucking terrible. Social media star and model Qandeel Baloch was murdered by her brother this weekend for being a woman, and everyone keeps calling it an “honor killing” because he said he did it for the family. But that’s bullshit. It’s murder. Waseem Baloch was arrested this weekend by Pakistani officials for drugging and then strangling his sister. There’s no honor in killing a woman for having the courage to talk about her experience, so Qandeel’s murder shouldn’t be called an “honor killing” by anyone.

Qandeel was a well-known model and actress and was very outspoken about how much she hated being a woman in an oppressive country. Last week, a music video she was featured in went viral, and her brother told police that was the final straw for him.

According to Buzzfeed, he said, “Murdering her was better than committing suicide, so I went with the former plan.” It wasn’t just because she was famous, though. An interview came out last week where Qandeel revealed she had been previously married, or “forced” to marry, a man from a small village when she was 17. She had a son with a him, but he was abusive and she escaped. This clearly went against what her family wanted her to do, and publicly talking about it looked even worse for her relatives.

She called her ex-husband “an animal” in the Dawn interview because he abused her. Qandeel said her son lives with him and that one day he would understand the “environment” she had to deal with and why she left him.

Qandeel said,”Being a girl, think yourself, how difficult it is to move around as a woman in this society. How many men do you encounter who bother you? The same way, I have struggled through difficulties to make a place for myself in showbiz. It was very difficult. What kind of problems I have faced, I don’t think anyone can understand.”

Her brother was proud that he killed her, like he had rid the house of cockroaches or something. He said in a press conference, “Now everybody will remember me with honor that I have provided relief to my parents and brothers who were suffering for the last two decades because of her.” He added, “Girls are born only to stay at home and to bring honor to the family by following family traditions, but Qandeel had never done that.”

“Honor killings,” or the murders of innocent women and girls who behave in a way their families don’t approve of, are pretty common in Pakistan and throughout Muslim and Mediterranean countries. “It is the most extreme form of domestic violence, a crime based in male privilege and prerogative and women’s subordinate social status,” Human Rights Watch writes.

Qandeel’s death is an example of what happens when an entire culture silences women. But calling it an “honor killing” only perpetuates and legitimizes that idea. It was murder, and if we want to honor Quandeel’s life and women’s lives in general, we should call it and all “honor killings” what they really are. There’s absolutely nothing honorable about killing women.