Sana Cheema: Yet Another Victim of Honour-Killing?

An autopsy has revealed, Italian-Pakistani, Sana Cheema died as a result of strangulation in Pakistan. Her father, brother and uncle were taken into custody for questioning in April 2018.

Sana Cheema

She wanted to marry someone of her choosing in Italy.

Pakistan seemingly adds another to its list of honour killing cases.

Following the autopsy of Italian-Pakistani, Sana Cheema, who died in April 2018, doctors have confirmed that she had been killed.

26-year-old Cheema was born in Pakistan but lived in Brescia, Italy since 2002. She died a day before she was due to fly back to Italy from Pakistan. She was buried 18th of April in West Mangowal, in the district of Gujarat. Her family claimed that Cheema had died of ‘natural causes’.

Soon after, her family members were taken into custody for questioning when allegations of honour killing went viral.

Police officer Waqar Gujjar said: “After the news of her death spread on social media, police found the family and started an investigation.”

On 25th of April, her body was exhumed for forensic examination.

According to the police, her family said she had died of “chronic ulcer and hypotension”. Allegedly, a suitor had rejected Cheema and as a result, she had refused to eat and fell ill.

Cheema’s family showed the police her medical reports that attested she was in the hospital for low blood pressure and stomach pain on 11th April 2018. The hospital confirmed she had left shortly after with prescribed medicine for nausea.

In the same month, Gujrat police officer, Mudassar Sajjad said: “Now it depends on the post-mortem report. If it determines the cause of death is due to murder, only then will police charge the suspects.”

On 9th May, the Punjab Forensic Laboratory revealed her neck had been broken due to strangulation:

“Cheema’s death was not accidental as she was strangled,” the report allegedly said.

According to the police, her father, Ghulam Mustafa, orchestrated the murder alongside his son, Adnan Mustafa, and his brother Mazhar Iqbal.

Police had also sent samples of her stomach off for forensic examination, with results coming back stating there were no injury marks.

Police reports say Sana’s father wanted her to marry a relative in Pakistan but she opposed this. She wanted to marry someone of her choosing in Italy.

Cheema’s friends in Italy confirmed she wanted to marry an Italian-Pakistani.

According to DNA India, a police official said:

“We have arrested Ghulam Mustafa along with his brother Mazhar Iqbal and son Adnan Mustafa for allegedly killing Sana Cheema. They have been booked under the murder charges.”

The Italian Foreign Ministry says they are willing to work with Pakistani authorities as they are determined to get to the bottom of the case.

Social media users offered their condolences for Sana Cheema and demanded justice using #JusticeforSana and #TruthforSana/#VeritàPerSana.

Womens March Global said: “Remember what we resist everyday. The tradition of oppression that women experience worldwide must come to an end. #FreeSaudiWomen #JusticeForSana”

Police have arrested the victim’s father, brother, and uncle and charged with her murder and unauthorised burial. It is reported they could be facing the death penalty.

Honour Crimes in Pakistan

Pakistan has one of highest numbers of honour crime cases. Hundreds of women in Pakistan have been killed to preserve their family’s honour if they have supposedly shamed them in some way.

According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the majority of the victims are women. In Pakistan, 376 women and 194 men were honour killed in 2017 alone.

Most of these killings occurred as a result of illicit relationships. This is demonstrated by the 253.73 people that were victims of honour killing due to their marital choices.

In 2016, Pakistan repealed a loophole which allowed killers to be legally pardoned if the family of the victim forgave them.

The punishment for honour crime is death or imprisonment for 14 years or life. However, this has not stopped honour killings from occurring.

Jakir is currently studying BA (Hons) English and Media with an interest in representations in Films and TV dramas. He is a film geek and cinema is his sanctuary. His motto: “Don’t fit the mould. Break it.”

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