In May 2012, a grainy cellphone video emerged in a remote and deeply conservative village in northern Pakistan. The video showed four young women singing and clapping in a room as two young men danced to the music. The village elders saw the celebration as a blatant defiance of strict tribal customs that separate men and women at gatherings, and a decree was issued for those in the video and their families to be killed as their actions were deemed ‘dishonorable.’ The women and one of their sisters, aged just 12, were allegedly imprisoned for a month and tortured before being killed. The men went into hiding but three of their brothers were shot dead.
Every year, nearly a thousand people are known to be killed in the name of honor in Pakistan. Many more go unreported, considered a part of everyday life — but the killings in Kohistan became national news after the surviving brother of the victims made it his mission to seek justice.
VICE News travels to Pakistan to meet Afzal Kohistani three years after the incident to investigate the story, which is still shrouded with mystery, and to find out what really happened in one of the country’s most perplexing honor killing cases. We follow Afzal after the highest court in the country turned its back on him, and along the way, find out some of the grimmest truths about the pervasive culture of so-called honor killings in the region.