Posts Tagged ‘UK’
Surjit Athwal, 28, UK.
Surjit Kaur Athwal sought to end an unhappy marriage by divorce. In 1998 her mother-in-law and husband took her to India under false pretences where she was killed. She had two children. Her husband and mother in law have been convicted of her murder. Surjit’s 70 year old mother-in-law Bachan Kaur Athwal was given a minimum of 20 years in prison, while her 43-year-old son and Surjit’s husband Sukhdave Athwal will not be eligible for parole for 27 years.
This landmark trial and sentencing was the result of more than eight years of constant, tireless campaigning by Surjit’s brother Jagdeesh Singh along with the excellent work of DCI Clive Driscoll and DC Palbinder Singh of Metropolitan Police, who led Surjit’s investigation and brought it to a successful criminal prosecution.
Judge Giles Forrester described the murder as “unspeakable”, saying: “This was a heinous crime characterised by great wickedness. “There was no motive worthy of the name. You did it because you thought she had brought shame on your family. “You decided that the so-called honour of your family was worth more than the life of this young woman.”
In the palm of her hands
Lay white flowers freshly picked
Along their morning dew,
Bathed in your name.
The nightingale tonight will sing,
The melody of the earth being just
Rain dances with the red earth,
For those who stood by your innocence.
For those who stood again the hate,
Who stood by you.
Honor is for those who stand unbroken in the name of justice.
It is for them , as for you…the earth rejoices.
Educated and strong-willed, Samaira Nazir wanted to live and love freely without fear.
Samaira studied travel and tourism at Thames University, and while running the family’s recruitment agency, she fell in love with Afghan immigrant, Salman Mohommed. For several years, the couple worked together and kept their relationship a secret. Salman told jurors during the trial ”we were as boyfriend and girlfriend for about five or six years. But we couldn’t tell her family because Samaira said her father was a very strict man who would not allow any female in his family to marry outside of his circle and tribe. We had discussed marriage. Samaira wanted to tell her family herself.”
Samaira’s family was offended by her rejections of Pakistani suitors for her arranged marriage, so when she and Salman announced their engagement, tempers within Saimaira’s family escalated dangerously. “Her father was very upset and said I was only after their money,” Salman told jurors. Enraged by the news, Samaira’s father lunged at Salman with a knife.
In April 2005, Samaira was summoned to her parent’s house in Southall, Middlesex. Standing by her decision and love she was ready to confront the family. What started as a heated argument turned into a brutal attack, as Samaira was held down and stabbed repeatedly by her father, cousin and brother. A neighbor heard the commotion and banged on the front door, but was sent away by Samaira’s father, who claimed his daughter was simply having a fit.
Samaira broke free from her attackers and tried to escape. Only her blood-covered arm made it through the front door before she was dragged back into the house by her hair. Bleeding from 18 stab wounds, Samaira continued to fight for her life. Samaira was heard from outside the home shouting “You are not my mother anymore!” A silk scarf was then tied around her neck, and her throat was slit three times. Police found Samaira drenched with blood in the home along with her traumatized, blood-splattered two and four-year-old nieces. Police believe that the girls were ordered to watch as a warning to them of what happens to disobedient women.
In July 2006, Samaira’s brother and cousin were sentenced to life in prison. Her father was also charged, but he fled to Pakistan and is still in hiding. Charges against Samaira’s mother were dropped.
After the trial Nazir Afzal of the Crown Prosecution Service, said “Samaira was murdered because she loved the wrong person, in her family’s eyes. It was an ‘honour killing’ to protect the perceived status of the family, to mark their disapproval. We hope the investigation and prosecution will deter others who may wish to harm family members because of practices that are as tragic as they are outdated.”
Love is grace,
Love is glory,
Love is her eyes when they meet his.
Love is when the heart speaks,
And the mind whispers,
of God and beauty.
Love is her kindness,
Love is her light,
Love is the synchronized breathing
Of two birds in flight,
Love is being set free,
From the chains that binds thee.
Dearest…. Love will be waiting for you,
With outstretched arms and big open hearts.
Love will be waiting for you,
when justice speaks, and truth is heard.
Love is waiting.
Abdullah Yones, began a life sentence in October 2003 for the murder of his 16-year-old daughter, Heshu a year earlier.
Heshu Yones was 16 when her father discovered she had a relationship with a classmate. He attempted to force her to marry a cousin in Kurdistan, and subjected her to virginity testing.
It was the first time in British legal history that a plea of ‘honour killing’ had been entered.
Abdullah said he stabbed Heshu to death at their West London home, because he feared she was becoming westernised.
The Metropolitan police subsequently set up a task force in a bid to increase understanding and awareness of this complex cultural issue though it was too late for women like Yones.
Heshu, who was described as popular and fun-loving, planned to run away from home after starting a relationship with an 18-year-old Lebanese boy. In a letter to her parents, Heshu wrote:
“Bye Dad, sorry I was so much trouble. Me and you will probably never understand each other, but I’m sorry I wasn’t what you wanted, but there’s some things you can’t change. Hey, for an older man you have a good strong punch and kick. I hope you enjoyed testing your strength on me, it was fun being on the receiving end. Well done.”
Abdullah stabbed his daughter Heshu 11 times and then slit her throat with a kitchen knife. Heshu took 15 minutes to bleed to death.
Sabia Rani, was only 19 when she was found dead in the home she shared with her husband and in-laws in Oakwood, Leeds in England in 2006. She had been in the UK for 5 months and the family claimed they found her dead in the bath and told policemen and courtrooms they believed black magic killed her.
However the investigation into her death revealed she was repeatedly attacked over a three-week period, suffering bruising over 90% of her body, which included at least 15 fractures in 10 fractured ribs.
Shazad Khan, her husband, was convicted of murdering her and after his trial police arrested and charged her mother-in-law Phullan Bibi, sisters-in-law Nazia Naureen, Uzma Khan and her husband Majid Hussain for turning a blind eye towards their brother’s behaviour.
Professor Christopher Milroy a pathologist of 16 years said Sabia’s injuries were worse than those suffered by victims of road traffic accidents and that she would have been suffering illness and severe trauma for the last 3 weeks of her life. However, the family claimed they saw no injuries on her body and didn’t realise she was in pain.
Sabia had left school at 13 to help look after her siblings in the village of Palak, in the Mirpur district of Pakistan. When she arrived in Britain, she had no grasp of English, knew no one else apart from her husband’s family and never went out alone. Her home was in fact her prison.
Shazad Khan eventually admitted to police he was unhappy to find that she did not place fresh sandwiches in his lunch box, which he left in the kitchen at the family home, or when she did produce sandwiches, she had failed to establish that he was off work the following day, which also angered him.
He complained to police that Sabia found the smallest tasks including grocery shopping or knowing how to apply make-up – difficult. Khan said in his police interview that this irritated him, as did Sabia’s failure to fit in with his family.
Roshni Sheffield Asian Women’s Resource Centre wants to get more help for women who arrive in this country as spouses of British citizens and suffer domestic violence but get no help from public bodies.
In 2008, Sahjdar Bibi was killed by her cousin for refusing to follow the tradition of cousin marriage and choosing her own husband.
According to information from the Star Welfare Organisation in Sargodha, Miss Sajida Bibi, 22 of Sargodha in the Punjab, freely married Mr. Mohammad Arshad, 28 of Shekhupura, on June 13, 2008 in a Shekhupura civil court. The woman’s parents were against the marriage and Sajida Bibi left the house after being seriously threatened by them. She then filed a restraining order against her family in the court of the Shekhupura Sessions
On June 18, two days before the decision of the court, her father, Saad Ullah, her uncle Ahmed Khan and others tried to kidnap her from the court premises, but failed. The order was granted and they were legally barred from harassing her further. Sajida Bibi’s first cousin an influential army officer, Major Zia Ullah Khan of Rawalpindi Garrison.
Shortly after this case Sargodha police officers started threatening the couple. The bride again filed a case for protection before the Lahore high court on July 27, 2008 and on August 6 the court of Justice Saifur Rehman passed an order restraining Sargodha officers from harassing the pair.
Ahmed Khan, the bride’s uncle, then lodged a First Information Report (FIR: an official document for further legal proceedings) against the groom, the groom’s father Mohammad Aslam and his younger brother on August 13 in Cantt police station, Sargodha, claiming that they kidnapped Sajida Bibi. Khan also claimed that his daughter was already married and that she should therefore be punished under Hudood laws.
Arshad was arrested but his wife recorded a statement in his defence.
On October 23 before Mr. Jamshed Mubarak Bhatti, civil judge of Lahore in a family court, Sajida then filed a case of defamation against her uncle and against a Fateh Khan, a Sub-Inspector who was allegedly claiming to be her husband, and whose brother (Inspector Nasr Ullah of the Lahore police) was also harassing her.
Two days later the father and brother of her husband (Aslam, son of Mohammad Liaquat Ali, and brother, Tahir, 22) were reportedly abducted by Saijida Bibi’s father, uncle, cousin (Major Zia Ullah) and Inspector Nasr Ullah.
According to witnesses they were taken from the Solang Wala Dera bus stop at around 8pm on October 25 in two cars, one of which was black with the registration number MI 1432, from Shekhupura.
Sajida Bibi went into hiding after her husband’s arrest, but on October 27 Sajida Bibi, along with the two badly beaten abducted men, was taken from her place of hiding by her uncle and father and went missing.
On October 28 the groom’s mother, Mrs. Zetoon Bibi lodged FIR 1112/08 for the abduction of her husband, her son and her daughter-in-law in Cantt police Station. Since the kidnappers have powerful connections among the police and military and despite that she has written more than a dozen letters to authorities, she never received a reply and all three were killed.
On Halloween 2006, Caneze Riaz, a mother and her daughters Sayrah, 16, Sophia, 15, Alicia, 10, and three-year-old Hannah were found dead in their beds by fire-fighters.
Caneze’s husband, Mohammed Riaz, was rescued from the home in Accrington, Lancashire with 50 % burns but died two days later. He was responsible for the blaze.
During an inquest into the incident it was revealed the father was depressed – his 17 year old son was in hospital battling leaukaemia, he also suspected his wife was having an affair and he could not bear his family adopting a westernised lifestyle. He had been upset that his eldest daughter wanted to be a fashion designer.
Relatives broke the news of his family’s deaths to the couple’s son, Adam, 17, as he lay terminally ill with cancer at the Christies Hospital in Manchester. He died six weeks later.
Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha’s family immigrated to Britain from Kurdish Iraq in 1998. In line with tribal customs of the strictly-traditional family, Banaz was given in arranged marriage to a member of her own tribe at age 17. Few years later, after her marriage broke down due to violence and rape, Banaz returned back to her family home and while seeking divorce fell in love with Rahmat Sulemani, an Iranian Kurdish man of a different tribe.
Her actions became known throughout the tight-knit Kurdish community in South West London and she faced multiple threats from family and community members. In December of 2005, Banaz was taken to hospital after what she recorded as her father’s attempt to kill her. Little action was taken by police despite her reporting the incident.
In January 2006, then 20 year old Banaz was raped and strangled to death with a shoelace in her family home by a gang of cousins and relatives on the order of her father and uncle. Banaz’s body was stuffed into a suitcase and buried in a garden of an abandoned house in Handsworth, Birmingham. Her body was found in April 2006, three months after she disappeared, reported missing only by her boyfriend.
It was later discovered that her father, uncle and other members of their clan had plotted and planned to murder Banaz on grounds that she had brought “dishonor” and “shame” to them.
In October 2010, Mohamad Hama of West Norwood was convicted of the murder of Banaz and given life sentence. Banaz’s cousins Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain, both 28, received minimum jail terms of 22 and 21 years respectively. Banaz’s father Mahmod Mahmod and her uncle Ari Mahmod were subsequently jailed for life, with minimum terms of 23 and 20 years respectively, for arranging the killing.
Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, told them: “This was a barbaric and callous crime. To restore the so-called family honour, it was decided by her (Banaz’s) father and uncle that she should die and her memory be erased.”
He told Ali and Hussain: “You are hard and callous men who were quite prepared to assist others in killing in the so-called name of honour and who placed respect from the community above life, tolerance and understanding.”
Women’s and other organizations internationally lobbied the governments in both the UK and Iraqi Kurdistan to extradite the two remaining suspects in the murder following the guilty verdicts in June 2007. The extradition was finally ordered by the Iraqi authorities in spring 2010.
Banaz was a lively and beautiful young woman who saw a world beyond unjust rules, abuse, violence and oppression. In the midst of all her turmoil she also found love and kindness, but this was brutally taken away from the very people she called family.
May Banaz rest in peace…and may she have found that world of love and kindness that she sought and so rightly deserves…
Night frost on the window sill,
Reflects her story within it.
They thought the frost would melt
Come blistering rays of sun,
And the morning would forget
That she had lived.
But the frost turned to air,
Air to wind,
Wind to song,
Sung to the world
That she had lived.
Her nights of battle
And her days of war,
In the battlegrounds
That is the life of a woman.
In her is the life of every woman.
To forget her story is to forgot ours,
To honour her life,
Is to ensure that we too live a life of honour.
And love as beings capable of love.
For those who believe in love but who hath love snatched away,
Do still believe.
Love is that brighter day that seem so far away,
Yet is on its way…. it’s on its way.
22 year old Anita Gindha, was eight-and-a-half months into her pregnancy when she was strangled at her house in Manor Park, East London, on February 19th 2003.
Anita had fled a projected arranged marriage to build her family on love with Kashmir Ralh. Two years later, when she was just weeks away from giving birth to her expected second child, she was strangled to death in front of her toddler son.
Palwinder Dhillon, an elderly illegal immigrant living in Walsall, West Midlands who was a former employee of Mrs Gindha’s husband and also a friend of her family’s was accused of her murder.
On the day of the killing, neighbours heard Anita’s screams and saw a man in an orange turban leaving the house.
Her husband Kashmir Ralh found her when he returned from work with their 19-month-old son crying besides her. He thought, because she was pregnant, she had fainted.
On 21/05/2004 Palwinder Singh Dillon was found guilty at the Central Criminal Court of murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 16 years.
A silver shaded moon meets the shrill black night
‘Did you hear her call?’
Says the sun to the dawn the next morning,
‘Nay but I heard her sing.
And with the sound of her song,
Was the gurgling of a baby
Joyous at its mothers face,
Smiling before it.’
Hear no more her last sounds
As came strength to overcome adversity,
Hear thou the song of her life,
In all its ebb and flow in your heart and veins.
The way she lived it, a warrior for love.
Dawn comes and with it rays
Graced from her smile,
And her laughter
From her garden of Courage,
Waiting, for us.
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
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
Six year old Alisha Begum suffered 95 per cent burns in an arson attack on her home.
In September 2006 a Birmingham Crown Court heard the attack was planned by Hussain Ahmed, a 26-year-old dentist, and friend Daryll Tuzzio, 18, after Ahmed found out his 15-year-old sister was seeing Alisha’s brother, Abdul Hamid.
Adrian Redgrave, prosecuting, said: “One hears of so-called honour killings though one may wonder how by any stretch of the imagination there can be any honour in what happened here, resulting in the death of a six-year-old child.
The jury heard that Abdul Hamid started a relationship with the teenager, Meherun Khanum, towards the end of 2005.
Her family were furious when they found out and 24 hours before the fire, Mr Hamid received a threatening telephone call warning him away from his sister He was convicted in October 2006 of the manslaughter of the 6 year old.
Tuzzio was cleared of murder but was convicted of arson with intent to endanger life.
Alisha’s family members fled the house when the fire took hold, with some jumping from upstairs windows to save themselves. When they realised Alisha was still in her bedroom, it was impossible for the family to return to the burning building, and she died from severe burns and smoke inhalation.
Alisha is the youngest known victim of ‘honour’ in the United Kingdom.
Your soft fingers grace the purple flowers
In the fields of lavender through which you run free,
Earth gets wisps of the scent, sometimes.
The beautiful red butterfly kisses your laughing cheek,
And cross our path, sometimes.
The water from the purest rivers flow over your little feet,
And comes down as much needed rain, sometimes,
The beautiful words you say dances through the wind,
And whispers in our ears, sometimes.
You are where love is my dear
In the wind that blows,
And the light where the heart resides,
Nestled in-between the cusps of two petals.
We hear you,
In the laughter of our daughters,
In the dreams of our sisters,
In the love of our mothers.
We feel you,
In the wisps of lavender breeze,
In the flutter of red butterflies,
In the whispers of raindrops.
You are all things innocent, dear beloved.