Posts Tagged ‘Swedish honour killing’

Fadime Sahindal

Fadime Sahindal, 26, Sweden.

Fadime Şahindal moved to Sweden from Turkey at the age of seven. She took to Swedish culture and was opposed to her family’s insistence on an arranged marriage.

She was 26 when her father killed her. Several years before Fadime appeared in the media and talked openly about her family’s struggles to integrate into Swedish culture and the problems she faced growing up.

She had left home at one point to live with her boyfriend. Fadime’s boyfriend Patrick died in a car crash the day they were to move in together.

She was stalked by her father and brother who threatened to kill her so she went to the police who advised her to talk to her family. She then turned to the media with her story which gained the nation’s sympathy in 1998. By going to the media Fadime managed to receive support from the Swedish authorities, but she had also made the “shame” of her family public.

A Kurdish-Swedish parliamentarian negotiated a compromise in which Şahindal agreed to stay away from Uppsala where her family lived and her boyfriend was buried in exchange for her father promising not to stalk her.

On the 20th of November 2001 the Violence Against Women Network arranged a seminar about the topic “Integration on who’s terms?”.  Click the link to find the speech held by Fadime Sahindal at the Swedish Parliament during the seminar.

She tells the detailed story of her father’s disapproval of her relationship with her Swedish boyfriend, Patrick and her wish to help other ethnic minority women in similar situations.

On 21 January 2002, Fadime was secretly visiting her mother and sisters in Uppsala. Her father, Kurdish immigrant Rahmi Sahinhal, arrived and shot her in the head, in front of her mother and two sisters. Confronted by police, he confessed and said to his defence that he was ill.

Fadime’s murder sparked a debate in Sweden about immigrant integration and also raised questions regarding her boyfriend Patrick’s death.

When he was in court in 2002, charged with Fadime’s killing, Rahmi confessed to the murder.  He said his daughter was a “whore” and claimed he had to kill her for family “honour”

Following her death successive governments have launched programs to combat honour based violence in Sweden. Commemorations are held around Sweden marking the anniversary of Fadime’s death.

Fadime was buried in Uppsala.



Swirls of your hair,

They catch the last rays of the dusking sun,

And holds it around you.


Glowing amber light.

A warmth of fire in your eyes,

From courage mustered

Through the trails of time.


Dear one,

How you must have held dear to Love,

Protecting it like the warrior you are.

For you are the true warrior,

Defending love’s existence,

A voice for it to be freed.


Lovers saw in you, purpose.

You are its purpose, oh True Martyr of Love.












Pela Atroshi

Pela Atroshi, 19, Kurdistan/Sweden.

Pela Atroshi’s family moved to Sweden in 1995 from Iraq. Her family belonged to the Atroshi Kurdish clan from Duhok in northern Iraq. Following the move, Pela quickly adapted to a more-liberal Swedish lifestyle which led to some conflict with her parents after which Pela left home in January, 1999 to live by herself. Missing her family however, Pela returned back to them after they said they had forgiven her. She also agreed to an arranged marriage in Kurdistan and returned with her family for Iraq in June of 1999.

During the visit to Duhok Pela was attacked and shot by her uncle and his sons. Her uncle Rezkar Atroshi had shot Pela twice at the back in an upstair room of her family home, before her mother and sister Breen intervened.  Upon helping her downstairs, the women were met by Pela’s uncles Shivan Atroshi and his brother who pulled the women apart and shot Pela in the head despite her pleas for mercy.

Evidently the decision to kill Pela was made by a council of male relatives, led by Pela’s grandfather, Abdulmajid Atroshi on the grounds that Pela had brought dishonour to the clan. A comment by one of Pela’s uncles justifies this action – “If any of the unmarried girls is away from home for one night, she has to be killed”.

Breen and her mother decided to run away to the Swedish Embassy there to report the murder. They were only able to return unharmed to Sweden due to high-level political maneuvering and the dedicated work of a special unit in the Swedish National Criminal Investigation Department. It turned out Pela’s father Agid and her uncles arranged for Pela to go to Kurdistan so they could kill her. Her grandfather remained in Sweden, saying, according to the testimony of Pela’s younger sister Breen, “I will not set foot in Kurdistan until Pela is dead”.

“When we counted all the ones involved in the planning (of Pela’s murder) there were 11,” Inspector Algamo of Sweden said.   Breen subsequently testified against her relatives and in October 1999, however given the complexity of Pela’s case – her grandfather, father and uncles Rezhar being Swedish, her other uncle Shivan being Australian, and some other family members being Iraqi- search and prosecution was immensely difficult

On January 12, 2001, the Stockholm City Court convicted two of Pela’s uncles of her murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Their sentences were confirmed on appeal. Pela’s father Agid remained in Kurdistan and is still wanted for murder in Sweden. Back in Iraq, an Iraqi Kurdish court eventually sentenced him and Pela’s uncle for just five months probation because their motives were “honourable.” In their home town in Iraq, honour killings are considered minor crimes, and the Atroshi clan are held in high regard. Her grandfather Abdet Abdulmajid Atroshi and one of the uncles – Shivan Atroshi have never been caught.

Due to Breen’s bravery in speaking with police and appearing in the trial to give testimony some justice was served in this case. Speaking to the media she said “My uncles wanted to restore the family honour, but I in return had to restore the honour of Pela,”. Following multiple death threats, Breen is forced to live in a secret location in Sweden. “My father’s family is after me to re-establish the family honour again. They want to kill me. I’m not safe,” she says. She does not regret that she testified against the men in her family for the sake of her sister.

In Sweden, Pela is honoured by the Swedish National Association GAPF: “Never forget Pela and Fadime” which is an organization urging the society to take its responsibility against honour related crimes.


Pela’s love for her family and decision to return to them and compromise to their wishes could not save her from cruel intent. Her final act was one of love and loyalty, while theirs was of brutal malice. We will remember Pela for that love, for her loving and giving nature. We stand behind Breen and women like her who risk life to for the sake of truth and justice.


“Dear daughter, dear sister, dear friend.

Your love is the air that lifts us,

Lightens our hearts,

And soothes our minds.

To give as truly

As you did,

Is the very strength

That will someday shine…”