Qandeel Baloch, one of Pakistan’s most prominent social media stars, was strangled to death by her brother in what police have termed an “honor killing.”
Police told CNN that Baloch, 25, was killed on Friday by her brother in retaliation for the “kind of pictures she had been posting online.” Baloch was known for her sultry photos with increasingly politicized messages about women’s rights:
Baloch was both adored and reviled. Unlike more conventional Pakistani female celebrities — who found fame portraying pious damsels in distress on television and film — her videos were not slickly produced, her English was not flawless and she was curvaceous and self deprecating.
Baloch had 750,000 Facebook followers, and her status as a highly divisive figure increased with each new post. While her photos would be considered standard fare in much of the rest of the world, conservatives in Pakistan excoriated the images—which often featured Baloch posing seductively on a couch or bed—as untoward. In one instance, she made headlines after posting a photo of herself with Mufti Abdul Qavi, a senior clergyman who, thanks to the photo, was ultimately suspended from one of Pakistan’s religious committees.
Baloch’s death was reported to police by her father, Muhammad Azeem, though her body was not found until Saturday morning. BBC reports that the strangling occurred following an argument with her brother, who has not been captured. Her parents have both been taken into custody.
Hailed as Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian, Baloch was known to speak out against the country’s deeply patriarchal society. On one post from earlier this month, she wrote:
At least international media can see what i am up to. How i am trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t wanna come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.
Here this one is for those people only.
Thankyou my believers and supporters for understanding the message i try to convey through my bold posts and videos. It’s time to bring a change because the world is changing. let’s open our minds and live in present.
On the morning of her death, Qandeel posted a photo of herself staring steadfastly into the camera. “I will bounce back,” the caption read, adding that she wanted to inspire women who have been “treated badly and dominated by society.”
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Gender Gap Report, Pakistan has the second widest gender disparity gap of the 145 countries listed, the worst only to Yemen.
Image via Instagram.