Arranged marriages are a standard practice in Pakistan, and there’s no shortage of stories about the extreme steps some Pakistani women will take to escape them and marry men of their choosing.
But not many go as far as Aasia Bibi is said to have. Pakistani authorities say the 21-year-old woman killed 17 of her new husband’s family members by accident when she tried to put poison in his milk.
Bibi, who is charged with mur*der, went to court in the city of Muzaffargarh in the northeast on Tuesday. There, she told reporters that her parents had forced her to marry a family member in September, as reported by the Associated Press and ITV. Her family lives in the small village of Ali Pur, which is close by.
“I begged my parents over and over again not to marry me against my will because my religion, Islam, also lets me choose the man I want to marry,” Bibi told the AP. “But they ignored all of my pleas.” She also said that she had told them she would do anything to end the marriage, but they would not let her. This was reported by ITV.
Police chief Sohail Habib Tajak told the AP that Bibi’s boyfriend, Shahid Lashari, gave her something “poisonous” because she was desperate to get out of the deal.
Tatak said that Bibi mixed the poison in milk and gave it to her husband last week, but he wouldn’t drink it.
After that, Bibi’s mother-in-law used the tainted milk to make lassi, a South Asian drink made with yoghurt. It’s not clear how she did it. When she served it to 27 members of her extended family, they all passed out and had to be taken to the hospital.
Soon after, Bibi and Lashari were arrested on murd*er charges. The AP said that neither of them had lawyers.
It is said that seventeen family members have died in the last few days, including a young girl. Ten family members are still in the hospital.
At first, Bibi denied the claims. She told ITV on Monday that her boyfriend “asked me to mix it in something” and give it to her husband.
The AP reports that at her court hearing on Tuesday, Bibi told reporters that she had actually targeted her husband and felt bad that other people had died.
Tajak said that he asked Bibi and Lashari a lot of questions to try to figure out who was guilty. Lashari told him that he gave the girl the poison, he said.
Tajak told the AP, “Our police have made progress by arresting a woman and her lover in connection with this murd*er case, which was hard and complicated for us.”