Four women and two men have been sentenced to death in northern Pakistan for the crime of singing and dancing at a wedding.
Clerics issued a decree after a mobile phone video emerged of the six enjoying themselves in a remote village in the mountainous district of Kohistan, 176 kilometres (109 miles) north of the capital Islamabad.
Pakistani authorities in the area said local clerics had ordered the punishment over allegations that the men and women danced and sang together in Gada village, in defiance of strict tribal customs that separate men and women at weddings.
“The local clerics issued a decree to kill all four women and two men shown in the video,” district police officer Abdul Majeed Afridi told AFP.
“It was decided that the men will be killed first, but they ran away so the women are safe for the moment. I have sent a team to rescue them and am waiting to hear some news,” he said, adding that the women had been confined to their homes.
Afridi said the events stemmed from a dispute between two tribes and that there was no evidence the men and women had been inter-mingling.
“All of them were shown separately in the video. I’ve seen the video taken on a cell phone myself, it shows four women singing and a man dancing in separate scenes and then another man sitting in a separate shot,” he said.
“This is tribal enmity. The video has been engineered to defame the tribe,” he added.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said at least 943 women and girls were murdered last year for allegedly defaming their family’s honour.
The statistics highlight the scale of violence suffered by many women in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where they are frequently treated as second-class citizens.