MULTAN, Pakistan – Outraged in-laws slashed the nose and ears of a Pakistani college student who married a woman without the consent of her higher caste family, and then fractured his legs with blows from an ax, police and the victim said Wednesday.
Mohammed Iqbal told The Associated Press about 30 male relatives of his wife stormed into his mother's village home during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, demanding vengeance for the "dishonor" the marriage had brought to their family.
"'You have mixed our honor with dirt,'" Iqbal, 22, speaking from his hospital bed, recounted the attackers chanting as they assaulted him with a dagger and ax on Monday night. They also slit his brother's ears and shot his mother in the thigh, he said.
Police officer Manzoor Ahmed in the city of Multan, where the three victims are recuperating, said seven men suspected of involvement in the attack in Inayatpur Mahota village, Punjab province, have been arrested and police were hunting for 22 other suspects.
Iqbal's wife, Shahnaz Bibi, 19, was not at the house at the time of the attack. She has been living in another town following a similar assault against Iqbal two months ago at the end of the holy month of Ramadan in which he suffered broken fingers.
Iqbal, whose nose and ears are now severely scarred with surgical stitching, said he and Bibi did nothing wrong when they wed last year.
"We married in court with our consent. We like each other. Islam gives us permission to marry out of our own choice," he said.
He said they fell in love after they met in a mango orchard. Iqbal used to buy fruit from Bibi's father to sell for profit. Bibi's family, considered to be a higher caste clan of land owners, was against the union.
Days after the wedding, Iqbal said police arrested him following allegations by his wife's family that he had abducted her. He was freed after his wife gave a statement in a court that she married him of her own free will.
The couple have a three-month old daughter, Shaista.
Members of Bibi's family were not immediately available for comment.
In deeply conservative rural areas in Pakistan, many men consider it an insult if their female relatives marry without their consent. Killing or attacking women and their partners in such cases is thought to restore family honor.
Offenders are rarely punished because of poor policing, corruption and legal loopholes.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, citing government figures, said in a report last year that about 1,000 women die annually in honor killings.