NEW DELHI: A teenage girl was burnt alive by her mother in Pakistan’s city of Lahore on Wednesday. Zeenat Bibi, 16, was set on fire by her mother Perveen Bibi about a week after marrying a man of her choice. Perveen, having killed Zeenat, shouted to the neighbours that she killed the girl for bringing “shame” to the family.

"Perveen Bibi killed her daughter Zeenat Bibi by burning her alive around 9:00 am on Wednesday," Haidar Ashraf, a senior police official told AFP, adding the teen had married a man named Hasan Khan on May 29. Khan's ethnicity -- he is an ethnic Pashtun, while Zeenat was a Punjabi -- was the main cause of the family's disapproval.

Khan told Geo News that the pair had eloped, but Zeenat had returned to the family after the promised they will not harm her, on the pretence of a celebration. "After living with me for four days following our marriage, her family contacted us and promised they would throw us a proper wedding party after eight days. Then we would be able live together,” he said. "Zeenat was unwilling to go back to her home and told me that she would be killed by her family, but later agreed when one of her uncles guaranteed her safety… fter two days, she called me and said that her family had gone back on their word and asked me to come to get her, but I told her to wait for the promised eight days. Then, she was killed."

‘Honour killings’ remain a major problem in Pakistan, where village tribal councils often object to marriages that defy conventional pairing. According to Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission, about 1100 women were killed by relatives in the country in the last year alone.

In May, a girl was strangled and burnt to death for helping one of her friends elope in Abbottabad. Ambreen Riasat, 17, was drugged and strangled before her body was set on fire in a mini bus on the orders of the village's tribal council. Police reports said that the council members tied Riasat's body to the seats of the Suzuki mini bus that the couple had used to elope, before setting the vehicle on fire.

The widespread problem of honour killings in the conservative country gained international attention after a documentary on the subject won an Oscar this year. In February, director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's film, “A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness” won in the best documentary short category.

The documentary is the story of 19 year old Saba Qaiser -- who miraculously survived drowning in a river after having been shot in the head. Unsurprisingly, those who tried to finish her off were none other than her own relatives her father and uncle as happens in most such cases of 'honour'crime.

The film, however, is not just the story of a brave girl who defied death and is now living happily with the man she loved and risked her life for, but centred more on the law of forgiveness that protects the killers. Saba's father and uncle are now free, with little to no remorse for their actions.

Saba, having faced pressure from local elders and the clan, chose to forgive the men who attempted to kill her. A law in Pakistan allows a family member to forgive the perpetrator of a crime committed against them -- leading to all charges being dropped no matter the severity of the crime.

Even in the documentary, Saba’s father boasts that his action protected the “honour” of his clan. “Such grandstanding by a criminal is perhaps the most disturbing part of the documentary. One can hardly find any such example of the state being a silent spectator in the face of such defiance. One wonders if the murderers would have had the same response from the community had they been punished for the crime. Perhaps the narrative would have been very different if there was no legal provision of forgiveness,” wrote Zahid Hussain in an article on the subject published by IPS.