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Published on May 27, 2014
A pregnant woman has been stoned to death by her own family in front of a Pakistani high court - for marrying the man she loved. Nearly 20 members of the woman's family, including her father and brothers, attacked her and her husband with batons and bricks in broad daylight.
Farzana Parveen, who was three months pregnant, was killed before a crowd of onlookers in front of the high court of Lahore, police have reported.
Police official Naseem Butt said the 25-year-old had married Mohammad Iqbal, with whom she had been engaged for years against the will of her family.
Her father had filed an abduction case against her husband, which the couple was contesting, her lawyer Mustafa Kharal said.
Arranged marriages are considered normal among conservative Pakistanis, who view marriage for love as a transgression.
Hundreds of women are killed every year in Muslim-majority Pakistan in so-called 'honour killings' carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit s*xual behavior.
Kharal said Parveen's relatives waited outside the court, which is located on a main downtown thoroughfare.
As the couple walked up to the court's main gate, the family members fired shots in the air and tried to snatch her from Iqbal, he said.
When she resisted, her father, brothers and other relatives started beating her, eventually pelting her with bricks from a nearby construction site, Iqbal said.
Iqbal, 45, said he started seeing Parveen after the death of his first wife, with whom he had five children.
'We were in love,' he told reporters.
He alleged that the woman's family wanted to fleece money from him before marrying her off.
'I simply took her to court and registered a marriage,' he said.
Butt, the police official, said Parveen's father surrendered after the incident and called the murder an 'honor killing.'
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private organisation, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in so-called honour killings in 2013.
But the Pakistani rights group, The Aurat Foundation, has said the figure could be closer to a thousand and some estimate the true number could be higher still.
Campaigners say few cases come to court, and those that do can take years to be heard.
Even those that do result in a conviction may end with the killers walking free. Pakistani law allows a victim's family to forgive their killer.
But in honour killings, most of the time the women's killers are her family, said Wasim Wagha of the Aurat Foundation.
The law allows them to nominate someone to do the murder, then forgive him.
'This is a huge flaw in the law,' he said. 'We are really struggling on this issue.'