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Female Pakistani Singer Killed In Peshawar

Ayman Udas, undated
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Ayman Udas, a rising female vocalist in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, was shot at her home, allegedly by her own brothers.

Her death has rattled the city's jittery artistic community, as local musicians and dancers in Peshawar -- a city renowned for its vibrant artistic life -- face increasing pressure as the region falls under greater Taliban influence.

Some attributed Udas's death to the Islamist militants, but her husband told reporters that his wife was killed because she broke family traditions.

A beautiful woman in her early 30s and mother of two, Udas recently remarried after a divorce. Her two brothers, Alamgir and Ismail, disapproved of her divorce, remarriage, and her artistic career, all of which disgrace a family's name in conservative Islamic society.

The honor killing, an ancient tradition in which a male family member kills a female to "save" the family name, took place on April 27 at the family's home while Udas's husband was out picking up milk. He immediately took the case to the authorities, who have made no arrests but raided several locations in search of the suspected killers.

Udas -- poet, lyricist, and popular Pakistani singer -- had recently given her first television appearance. In one of her more popular songs, "Mra shum ashna khu pa jwando ki usam, janana sta pa waswaso ki usa," she sings about the importance of courage, even to the point of defying death.

Her death "is absolutely unacceptable," Ahmad Ali Adil of the University of Peshawar told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, calling the crime "a murder of humanity." He said that unless society changes, several other female performers will face similar problems.

Meanwhile, Artists are coming under direct threat in Taliban-controlled areas. In January, a dancer's bullet-ridden body was left in the center of Swat Valley's capital of Mingora -- not far from where Udas grew up -- with a note warning locals that "un-Islamic voices" will no longer be tolerated.