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Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed

Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed, 17, UK.

A bright and ambitious 17-year-old, Shafilea desired nothing more than to attend law school, but her parents had other plans for their daughter. Soon, a girl’s dreams of a career in justice spiraled into an unjust series of mysterious disappearances and violence.

The Ahmed family lived in Warrington, England, and Iftikhar Ahmed, Shafilea’s father, even stated to investigators “I’m as English as anybody can be.” He claimed that he was happy with his daughter’s Western tastes in music and fashion. Nobody knows exactly what sparked the conflict in the Ahmed family, but it is believed that Shafilea’s educational aspirations and fears of arranged marriage are what led to her murder.

In Fall of 2002, Shafilea confessed to her professors that she was being held against her will at home. Her teachers talked to Iftikhar and Faranza Ahmed. Though her parents allowed her to go to school again, Shafilea ran away multiple times and eventually registered as being homeless. She admitted her parents beat her, stole money from her bank account and would likely force her into an arranged marriage.  She also wrote poetry about her family issues to cope with the pain.

After months of being homeless, Shafilea returned home, and the family left for a holiday in Pakistan in February, 2003. During this trip, Shafilea’s parents introduced her to a potential husband. While in Pakistan, Shafilea drank bleach and seriously damaged her throat. Her parents claimed this cry for help was simply an accident. Once she was back in Warrington, Shafilea only left the house for medical treatment until she started her A-Levels at college in September.  Shafilea went missing just over a week into the semester, and a former professor contacted authorities on September 18, 2003.

In February, 2004, Shafilea’s body was found on the banks of the River Kent in Cumbria, after mass flooding in the area. The corpse had been deliberately hidden but was washed onto the shore and found by three workmen, according to police. Dismembered and badly decomposed, the body was identified as Shafilea weeks later, based on dental records and a gold bracelet and topaz ring found with the body. Two post mortem reports concluded that Shafilea was the victim of a “vile murder,” likely from strangulation or suffocation. In December 2004, English writer, actor and dancer Shobna Gulati joined forces with the investigation team to find answers to Shalfiea’s mysterious murder and did a public reading of Shlfiea’s poems, depicting the feelings of despair and hopelessness during the months before her disappearance.

Iftikar and Faranza Ahmed were arrested on suspicion of their daughter’s murder along with five family members in December 2003 but were released due to lack of evidence. In September 2010, Shalifea’s parents were arrested again, under suspicion of committing the honor killing.

Friends of Shafiela knew her as a bright, genuine, shy and beautiful. The coroner in this case lamented “Her ambition was to live her own life in her own way: to study, to follow a career in the law and to do what she wanted to do. These are just basic fundamental rights and they were denied to her.”

Excerpts from writings by Shafiela:

I wish my parents would be proud of wot I done

Instead it’s ‘you’ve have bought shame’
Or something else lame
I don’t wanna hear this no more
No no no.

“I feel trapped.  All they think about is honour, I was like a normal teenage kid, didn’t ask 2 much, I just wanted to fit in, but my culture was different. Now I’m sitting here playing happy families still crying tears”.

–Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed, 17, UK


 

Poems by Shafiela Ahmed

 

Happy Families

I don’t pretend like we’re the perfect family no more
Desire to live is burning
My stomach is turning
But all they think about is honour
I was like a normal teenage kid
Didn’t ask 2 much
I jus wanted to fit in
But my culture was different
But my family ignored
Now I’m sitting here

Playing happy families
Still crying tears
But no we’re a happy family
I have these fears
I wish, I wish, I wish
For a happy family
I lay in bed hoping the next day would be better
It was just a thought
Because it never happened no
But I still dream of this today yeah hey
I wish my parents would be proud of wot I done
Instead it’s you’ve have bought shame
Or something else lame
I don’t wanna hear this no more
No no no.
I Feel Trapped

I feel trapped, so stuck I don’t wot 2 do the feeling is mutual, I don’t know how to explain
Im a trapped so trapped (so trapped )
Now u know where I stand, when I fall back I got no where else to land
I don’t know how to say
I’m trapped so trapped I’m trapped wit u.
It was my last year in school, so happy with my friends I got lots to do —
But came this day when everything changed
I came home it seemed like a normal day
But sumthing wasn’t right —-
I wish I coulda changed the event
I shoulda killed myself instead
I’d rather have been dead
Coz now I have a burden on my chest
And no it won’t go away, the guilt, the pain
When I look back on things I coulda changed coulda stop, prevented, exchanged
But i had to turn out this way (so trapped)
Now I’m sitting on my window bay
Looking at the rain —-
Drowning sorrow and pain
Will this ever go away —-
I feel trapped so trapped, I’m trapped
I’m trapped, so trapped I’m trapped
(I don’t know wot do) I feel trapped.
But my family ignored