Monday, September 17, 2007

Where Is The Honour in "Honour Killings"?

As I was scouring the different news sites that I check on a daily basis I came across this chilling revelation that I feel everyone should read.
For many of us women who enjoy the freedom of speaking one's mind, having the power to choose and make decisions, being open with anything in our society; oftentimes we forget how precious this gift could be. Taking it for granted even.

Yet, in other parts of the world women are silenced, forbidden to speak, told what to do like robots. They are expected to do only two things. "Respecting" the man and bear babies.
Now by "Respect" it simply means forsaking your rights and be like a programmed robot saying yes always to a man's every wish.
Now, if you are a woman who were bold enough to disobey or give out a different opinion you shall pay dearly... with your LIFE!

As Bekhal Mahmod will tell, her tale is of a horrible one.
I salute her for having the courage to speak her mind out and break the silence.
By speaking out against this and confronting the problem, instead of hiding and giving the illusion that all is well, her sister's death has been given justice.

And for the assholes who will just say

1.) I don't have a reliable news source because The Daily Mail is like the Fox News of the UK.

Yes please let your ignorance astound me more. The news site might have run some controversial articles before, but what news site hasn't?
That said, it doesn't discredit the credibility of said article.

2.) The author merely wish to paint a portrait of Islamophobia by spreading wrong information.

First off the girl was "interviewed".
She's a real, breathing, gloriously alive human being.
Helen Weathers wrote of her experience, bringing the truth out.
I would say that you too are a part of this horrendous crime if you feel that everyone or anyone who dares to speak and air out their side of the story should be silenced.
NO less than the very despicable criminals who perpetuated this crime. And IF this is how the ordinary person interprets Islamic teachings then don't you think it is about time Moslems take a moment of their time to examine such a horrible thing that is somehow giving their religion a bad name?

Lastly, think what you like about the article. I for one, just wish to air out this girl's side and let the world know that women have a right, the freedom and a voice and it should be heard.

The concept of "honour killing" is as honorable as peeing and spitting on your parents' faces.
To take the life of an individual simply because they violated the code of standards you imposed on your self is not honourable.
Killing an innocent, defenseless person is one of the most evil of crimes and if hell really does exist, may your souls rot in there for all eternity.

*Story copied and pasted here. Links available at the bottom.*

'Honour killing' sister breaks her silence


Britain was appalled by the horrific 'honour killing' of a girl murdered by her father for daring to kiss the man she loved.

Here, her sister, who narrowly escaped death herself and now lives in fear of her life, breaks her silence.

Every time Bekhal Mahmod leaves the safety of her home, she wears the
hijab with a black veil covering her face - even though she would give
anything for the freedom not to have to.

She has no family to turn to, few friends, and has to lie to new
acquaintances about who she is and where she is from. She is constantly
looking over her shoulder.

"My life will always be at risk," says 22-year-old Bekhal. "There are
people in my community who want to see me dead, and they will not rest
until I am. I will never be safe. I wear the veil so no one can
recognise me."

It is a desperately lonely and isolated existence, but at least she is alive - unlike her younger sister Banaz.

Both young women brought "shame" on their strict Muslim Iraqi Kurdish family by disobeying their father Mahmod.

Bekhal, 22, ran away aged 16 rather than agree to an arranged marriage to a cousin in Iraq.

She survived an attempted killing by her brother, but her sister
Banaz, 20, paid the ultimate price for leaving her own arranged
marriage and then falling in love with an "unsuitable man" of her own

On the orders of her 52-year-old father and uncle, Ari Mahmod,
50, she was strangled with a bootlace by Kurdish assassins, her body
stuffed in a suitcase and buried six feet down in the garden of a house
belonging to an associate in Birmingham.

Two of the murderers, who fled back to Iraq after this horrific
so-called "honour killing", have since boasted of raping Banaz before
she died in January 2006.

"Honour killing?" cries Bekhal. "Where is the honour in a
father putting his status in the community before the life of his own
flesh and blood?

"They should be disgusted with themselves. Honour in our community is about men having the upper hand, having the ruling power.

"Banaz was the most beautiful, loving, caring, easy-going girl you
could ever hope to meet. Her only crime was to want to have some say in
her life. Where is the shame in that?

"After I refused an arranged marriage, I knew I had two
choices; stay and be killed, or leave and live. I chose to live but I
had to leave everything behind."

Bekhal was one of the key prosecution witnesses at the
three-month trial of her father and uncle, which this week resulted in
their convictions at the Old Bailey for murder.

They have yet to be sentenced. A third man, Mohamad Hama, 30, of South Norwood, London, had already admitted the killing.

The other key witness was Banaz's boyfriend Rahmat Sulemani, 29,
whose own life was threatened because he was considered an unsuitable
match for Banaz, despite also being Iraqi.

Bekhal and Rahmat now face a future of secret addresses and identities under police protection.

"When I stared into the eyes of my father in court, there wasn't
even a twitch of guilt," says Bekhal. "No emotion at all. I still love
him because he is my father, but I can never forgive nor understand
what he did.

"Why, if he didn't want us to be influenced by Western ways,
did he bring us to Britain? You cannot expect your children to follow
the same traditions as back in Iraq.

"It is an impossible expectation. This would never have happened back there because we would have known no different."

Bekhal has shown incredible bravery in giving evidence against
her father and speaking out now in her first major interview, for the
threat of reprisals is very real.

She is believed by British police to be the first female family member ever to give evidence in an "honour killing" trial.

Indeed, her mother and three other sisters refused to cooperate with the police for fear of upsetting the community.

"Why should we have to die for wanting no more than for our voices to be heard, to have a say in our lives?" Bekhal says.

For it seems that it is women who are the main casualties when some
ultra-traditional immigrants are determined to protect their own
culture, even if it means operating above the law.

According to Bekhal, integration was the very last thing on
her father's mind, although she says he seemed happy to accept
Britain's hospitality in the form of a council house and benefits.

Despite being relatively well-off back in Iraq - his family
were property owners and ran various businesses - he never worked here.
His status in the community and the respect of Iraqi Kurds were all
that mattered to him.

Bekhal was 14 and Banaz 12 when they first arrived in England,
as asylum seekers fleeing Saddam Hussein's Iraq, with their parents
Mahmod and Behya, brother Bahman, now aged 28, and sisters Beza, 25,
Payman, 20, and Giaband, 16.

Having moved into a council house in Mitcham, South London,
Mahmod's daughters, who couldn't speak a word of English, were enrolled
at the local Bishopsford Community School.

Inevitably problems started almost immediately as Bekhal began to learn
the language and made friends with Western boys and girls.

She started to envy their freedoms, to the evident fury of her father.
The more Westernised his daughters tried to become, the more he tried
to control them, often resorting to verbal abuse and violence.

"We used to have to wear a headscarf and trousers to school, which was
so hot," Bekhal recalls. "I didn't want to wear mini-skirts or makeup
like some of the girls, but I longed to take my headscarf off.

"One day I was walking home through the park and I'd taken my
scarf off and my father saw me. He screamed at me: 'Who do you think
you are? You are acting like a bitch.'

"He pulled me inside the house, spat in my face and then
picked up his slippers to beat me around the head as he shouted: 'Don't
you ever disobey me.' In the two years before I ran away, I think he
beat me more than 20 times.

"It would be over silly things like undoing the top button of
my school shirt, or using hair gel. Once, he picked up a metal soup
ladle and hit me round the head repeatedly with it.

"I didn't want to have boyfriends or go out at night or anything like that. I was respectful to my parents.

"I just wanted to be able to have friends, to give my opinion, very small things that British girls take for granted."

Bekhal left school after taking her GCSEs and took a part-time
job working in a supermarket. All her earnings - around £300 a month -
were taken by her father; she was given just £50 from it.

"One day I was walking home from work and a male colleague was walking beside me, pushing his bike along," she says.

"All of a sudden my father drove up. My friend leapt on his bike to
cycle off and my father tried to run him over. Back home after that I
was beaten again.

"When I used to confide in friends what was happening to me, they used to accuse me of exaggerating.

"They couldn't believe that such things could go on in today's society.
They thought there were laws to prevent it, but they do happen and
there are many other women still suffering.

"It is not a cultural issue. It is criminal and people need to take it seriously."

Bekhal first ran away when she was 16 and went to live with a
schoolfriend. Her parents tracked her down and after countless threats
she reluctantly agreed to return home.

The second time, she ran away after she was locked for a week
in a bedroom for refusing to accept an arranged marriage with a cousin,
calling the police to rescue her after escaping her confines while the
rest of the family were out.

She was placed in foster care by social services, but again, reluctantly went home after a few months.

"My parents again tracked me down and kept sending me audio
tapes. At first they would be tearful, with my dad calling me his
'little rose'.

"Then they became more menacing. My father told me that unless
I went home he would kill all my sisters first, then my brother, then
my mother, then himself, such was the shame I had brought on them.

"I believed him, so I went back. Did I think he was capable of doing that? Absolutely."

The beatings continued, as did the demands that she agree to
marry her cousin. "I kept repeating 'I will not do it'. I could not
agree to marry some stranger and live an unhappy life."

It was when Bekhal ran away for a third time -returning to her
foster mother - and found herself a Muslim boyfriend, who was not
strict in his religion, that Mahmod decided he could not allow her to

During Banaz's murder trial, the court heard how Mahmod
dispatched his only son Bahman to restore the family's honour by
killing Bekhal.

Bekhal recalls how her brother lured her to meet him at a
remote spot in South London, with promises of money, and then hit her
round the head with a dumb-bell while her back was turned.

"I felt this terrible pain in my head and collapsed," recalls Bekhal. "Blood was streaming down my face.

"I felt dizzy and sick, but I looked up at him and said: 'What are you
doing?' He was crying like a baby and kept repeating: 'I've got to do
it, you have brought shame on the family. It is my duty.'

"As he started to drag me across the gravel I was pleading:
'Please don't do this, I will do anything, just tell my father you
killed me and let me go, you will never hear from me again.'

"Thankfully for me, he couldn't go through with it. He put his
hand in his pocket and gave me six £50 notes before telling me to go. I
phoned my boyfriend, screaming hysterically: 'Please come and get me,
my brother's trying to kill me.'

Bekhal was taken to hospital where she received several
stitches to her head, but she refused to inform the police or press
charges, because - despite herself - she didn't want to shame her
family by involving the authorities.

From then on, she occasionally phoned her sisters in secret, careful not to tell them where she was living.

Some months later, she learned that her younger sister Banaz,
unlike her, had agreed to an arranged marriage when she was 17 to a
Midlandsbased Kurdish man, then aged 28, whom her father described as
"the David Beckham" of husbands.

But the marriage was a disaster. Banaz, the court would later
hear, fled home after two-and-a-half years complaining that her husband
was violent, regularly beating her.

"I remember going to see Banaz in secret when she was married and she was terribly unhappy," Bekhal recalls.

"She finally understood why I had run away. I told her she could come
and live with me, but she said she couldn't bring further shame on the
family. She later told me she only put up with her husband for so long
because she wanted to keep our father happy."

What a bitter irony that this young girl continued to try to please the man who would later take her life.

Back home with her family, Banaz was not yet divorced when she
met Rahmat Sulemani, from South London, at a family party in 2005.

For a long time they were just good friends before falling in love, but Mahmod did not approve.

Rahmat - despite being a family friend - was not from the same
village and not as religious as the Mahmods. He was warned off with
threats to his life.

Banaz, 20, was taken to a relative's house in Sheffield, where she was locked up for two weeks and beaten.

When that did not work, a family meeting was called by Banaz's
uncle, Ari Mahmod, a wealthy entrepreneur who ran a money transfer
business, where it was decided to kill the couple unless they stopped
seeing each other.

But Banaz and Rahmat, whose occupation has never been revealed to
protect him, and who now lives under an assumed name, continued to meet
in secret.

Their fate was sealed when a member of the Kurdish community
pictured them kissing in the street in Brixton on his mobile phone.

The first attempt on Banaz's life was on New Year's Eve 2005,
when she was taken to her grandmother's house in Wimbledon and plied
with brandy by her father, who then came towards her, arms outstretched
wearing surgical gloves, as she fought off sleep.

She ran out through the back door when her father briefly left
the room, and broke a neighbour's window to try to raise the alarm,
cutting her wrists in the process.

The police were called, but the female officer who interviewed her, PC
Angela Cornes, didn't believe her. She dismissed Banaz as an attention
seeker and even considered charging her with criminal damage for
breaking the window.

It was left to Banaz's boyfriend Rahmat to record on his
camera phone her chilling testimony, explaining - as she lay in
hospital - what had happened and describing how she was "really scared"
for her life.

This was played to the jury during the murder trial.

PC Cornes is one of five police officers under investigation in
an internal review by Scotland Yard over the handling of the case, for
it emerged during the trial that Banaz had told police on at least four
occasions that her family was plotting to kill her.

Yet, crucially, she declined the police offer of a place at a
refuge, believing no harm would come to her while at home with her

Mahmod never reported his daughter missing to police after she
suddenly vanished in January 2006. It was left to Rahmat Sulemani to do

When the police first called at the family home on the day she was murdered - January 24 -
Mahmod fobbed them off, saying she was out.

Two days later they classed her as high-risk after the family refused
to report her missing and launched a full-scale investigation.

Bekhal describes the day she was told by police that her
sister's body had been found buried half-naked in a garden - three
months after her death - as the very worst of her life.

"What they did to my sister was devilish, despicable and
disgusting. Can a family's honour be worth more than a life? I can't
bear to think of the way she must have suffered. I had no choice but to
stand up in court and give evidence for her."

Today, Bekhal has no contact with her mother, brother or
sisters. She cannot risk any communication, in case her new whereabouts
under police protection is inadvertently revealed.

More importantly, however, she does not want to put them at risk from the Kurdish community for associating with her.

"I would rather live like this than live in fear," says Bekhal.
"I will never be able to tell people who my father is - not only
because of the risk to my life but because I'm ashamed. He is the one
who has brought dishonour to our family."

Source: The Daily Mail
Click the link to see their pictures.

Other stories related to this article
Thousands of Women Killed for Family "Honor"
Honor Killing
International Campaign Against Honor Killings

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