April 25, 2018 / 1:32 PM / in a year

Pakistani police exhume Italian woman over suspected 'honor killing'

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani police exhumed the body of an Italian woman of Pakistani descent on Wednesday to investigate suspicion her family killed her in the name of so-called honor after she refused to marry a man of their choosing.

Sana Cheema, 25, who lived in Brescia, Italy, was visiting relatives in Pakistan this month when her family says she died after suffering from “chronic ulcer and hypotension”, said police official Asad Gujjar.

Social media activists in Pakistan highlighted the case this week, citing Italian media reports that Cheema might have been killed by her family after she refused to marry the man they wanted her to.

“Police have taken samples from her stomach and sent them for forensic examination,” Gujjar said. He said there were no apparent injury marks on her body.

Cheema’s father and some relatives had been summoned for police questioning, he said, adding that no arrest had been made.

The family could not be reached for comment and no immediate comment was available from the Italian embassy.

Hundreds of women and girls are killed each year in Pakistan at the hands of family members over perceived damage to “honor” that can involve eloping, fraternizing with men or any other infraction against conservative values relating to women, rights groups say.

Parliament passed legislation against “honor killings” in 2016, introducing tough punishment and removing a loophole in the law that allowed killers to walk free if pardoned by family members.

Police in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, said recently the number of cases of honor killing had fallen since the law was introduced.

Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Robert Birsel

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