Pakistani model and social media star Qandeel Baloch was strangled to death last Friday by her brother, in what has been labeled a “honor killing.” The 26-year-old, whose real name was Fouzia Azeem, began her career with an audition on Pakistan Idol, which went viral and quickly gave her the title of “the Pakistani Kim Kardashian.”
Much like the reality TV star, Azeem began using her platform to encourage women to be sexually free and to speak out against the treatment of other Pakistani women. She was more than a social media figure, but someone who continuously challenged the perspective of women in a conservative, non-western society. Just hours before her murder, Azeem took to Facebook writing: “Qandeel Baloch is ‘One Woman Army,’ inspiration to those ladies who are treated badly and dominated by the society. I will keep on achieving and I know you will keep on hating. DAMN but who cares?”
An estimated 1,000 women are killed each year in Pakistan alone from honor killings—murders that takes place when a woman disobeys a family’s reputation and the overall patriarchal culture by doing anything from being openly gay or being a victim of rape. Meanwhile, men are allowed to live freely with standards skewed by misogyny.
Since Friday, women across Pakistan have come out in protest to condemn the star’s murder, as well as other recent honor killings that have taken place. Pakistan’s Feminist Collective has created a petition celebrating the “Third World feminist’s” existence and seeking justice for Azeem. One can only hope women in the western world who have the privilege to be sexually free would help elevate women who don’t, rather than tear other women down.