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Dishonourable killings

August 06, 2012


Shafilea Ahmed. -AFP Photo

Every year hordes of people apply for immigration to US, Canada and USA. Many of them end up leaving their countries for greener pastures but often fail to strike a balance between their native culture and the western culture. The result, quite evidently, is disastrous.

The recent trial of the Pakistani-British couple who allegedly murdered their 17-year-old daughter, Shafilea for their so-called notion of honour has taken the entire world by storm. Ifikhar and Farzana Ahmed, parents of the unfortunate teenager, face life in prison for killing their daughter in 2003 – but the grotesque nature of the crime and the absurd reason for committing such a barbaric act is simply beyond imagination.

We all turn to our parents for unconditional love and support and most of us know that no matter what we do our parents will always be there to look out for us. Unfortunately, that was not the case with Shafilea whose own parents suffocated her to death without even thinking twice as if she was an insect which needed to be squashed for a greater cause.

Every year scores of women are killed on the pretext of saving one’s honour, whereas many are enticed to visit their native countries where they are made to marry unknown and old men against their own will, which in many cases turns out be worse than death.

In United Kingdom alone, 25 women were killed in the name of honour, in the past 10 years. Many of them died because of innocuous reasons that fail to hold any significance in civilised societies.

Shafilea was brutally murdered because of her desire for wearing a pair of jeans, wearing nail colour and talking to boys. Zainab, Sahar, and Geeti, who migrated to Canada with their parents from Afghanistan, were killed by their father because they ‘dated men’, were not doing ‘exceptionally well in school’ and wore ‘inappropriate clothes’. Sumaira Nazir was stabbed 18 times before her throat was slit open by her family for loving the wrong man.

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed. -AFP Photo

My only question to such parents and family members is why do they move to western countries when they cannot even let their daughters and sisters wear a pair of jeans? What kind of double lives do they want them to lead? Is wearing western clothes, loving a man or not covering one’s head enough for receiving a death sentence?

What is most ironical is that with a large percentage of Asian living in Great Britain, the country does not have a well-formulated law on forced marriage, which remains one of the most important factors behind honour crimes.

The Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) — a law which was introduced in 2008 — can be obtained by anyone who thinks that he/she can be forced to marry someone by their families. However, the order is more of a civil nature and the breach of the same does not have severe consequences which makes it highly nebulous and gives out a dangerous message to people who believe that living by the principles laid by the society is the only honourable way to live.

Although Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged his support for the cause and has reiterated that forced marriages will become a criminal offence, however, it is still unconfirmed how many years the formulation of this law will take and until then how many women will suffer in United Kingdom.

Why are we so obsessed with our false notion of honour? If marrying by choice is a heinous crime then why have all the religions approved of this act? Are parents allowed to abuse and kill their children if they act against their orders or instructions?

No religion or scripture has given parents any right to impose their rules on children and murder them if they disobey their commands. It is time to stop thinking about daughters as mere sheep and cattle who can be manoeuvred according to the will of the shepherd — clearly parents in this case.

We must collectively raise our voice to snub out the evil of honour killing because it affects all of us. Every honour killing is an open question mark to the society that hails such practices and people who propagate such ideologies. Every crime tarnishes our faith and all that our society stands for.

It is time to think and let live before we collapse as a race.


Faiza Mirza
The writer is a Reporter at