She Was Murdered For Daring To Challenge The Status Quo. Now Her Message Is Reaching Further Than It Ever Did.

There is no honor in this.

Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani social media star and outspoken feminist, spent much of her public life stirring the pot in an effort to start a conversation about pressing gender equality issues. Last week, she was killed for her bravery.

Baloch was the victim of an "honor killing," the murder of a woman who has brought shame to her family. On Sunday, her brother confessed to Pakistani police that he was responsible for her death.

"Money matters," he said. "But family honor is more important."

Baloch was first thrust into the spotlight when she broke down on "Pakistan Idol" after not making it through the first round of auditions. Her emotional reaction, which went viral, helped grow her original fan base. Soon after, Baloch was making music videos and songs, and her popularity was rising.

But unlike most female celebrities in Pakistan, the artistic choices that Baloch made were seen as slightly risqué. Her pictures and videos became increasingly controversial, due in part to her decision to occasionally show cleavage or dress in skimpy clothing, acts that were seen as sinful by many conservatives in Pakistan. 


In 2015, the World Economic Forum released a Gender Gap Report, and ranked Pakistan second to last on a list of 145 countries in terms of gender equality. That gap was reflected not just in economics, but also in culture. Many in Pakistan adored Baloch, but plenty of others took to attacking her with abusive online comments.

"I am an inspiration to those ladies who are treated badly by society," she once said. "I will keep on achieving and I know you will keep on hating."

Early in her career, Baloch opened up to about being forced to marry an older man when she was 17, a man she eventually had a son with and then left. She claimed he put her through unimaginable abuse, though the man denied those claims. 

Since her death, many have speculated as to the events leading up to her killing. On Instagram, Baloch documented meeting in a hotel room with the well-known Muslim cleric Mufti Abdul Qavi. In the pictures online, she's seen wearing his traditional fur-lined hat, and the two claimed to be meeting to discuss Islam and Iftar, the meal that breaks Ramadan fast.

But the photos online were met with outrage, from both the government and many in Pakistan. Qavi was immediately removed from his position on a board that decides when Ramadan begins and ends. Baloch began receiving so many death threats that she asked the government for protection, but it ended up being her brother that took her life.

Unfortunately, these killings are not a thing of the past; an estimated 1,000 Pakistani women are killed this way every year. Typically, honor killings go unpunished by the state. But under international pressure, police changed the report to charge the brother with "murder against the state," which leaves him defenseless if the government decides to prosecute him. 

In the aftermath, Baloch's story and cause are receiving far more recognition than they did during her life. All across the globe, people are honoring Baloch in various ways. Some have posted poems on Twitter, others have written heartfelt op-eds online. 

Hopefully, her memory will continue to promote the freedom of women in Pakistan and help stop the senseless honor killings that persist throughout the country. 

Here are some touching tributes to Baloch:


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