No Honour


I am British.

I am also Asian. To my american readers, a british asian is what you would call “Indians”. In the UK it’s a catch all for Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans who settled in the UK. I actually find it such a misnomer since it treats “Asian” as a single culture when most british asians adopt local variations. I am more mancunian than british. It’s a diverse group of people who range from the “richest and best educated demographic” (British Indians) to “one of the poorest and least educated demographic” (British Pakistani/Bangladeshi). Generalisation never helps especially not here.

I am British Indian. I come from an upper middle class family. I am Indian in ethnicity but me and India have little in common. I am more brit than indian. It’s not a betrayal of my heritage (If anything this has made me even more proud of my heritage than most Indians and more well read about Indian history than many Indians) but an understanding of living in a multicultural society in a country I am proud to call my home.

Multiculturalism means acceptance of all cultures. It does not mean that stupid things in different cultures cannot be criticised. Multiculturalism does not and should not mean that I cannot call Scientology a ridiculous scam. It doesn’t mean that you can turn a blind eye to monsters. Not all “culture” is good. What I write is filled with trigger warnings (Abuse, Murder, Suicide) so proceed with that in mind. It is graphic, but the graphic nature of such things needs to be known. Death is not a clean process, it is a horrible messy termination of a human being. Sugar coating the incident detracts (IMHO) from the fact that someone has died.

Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed was born on the 14th of July 1986 to Ahmed and Farzana. In September 2003, she went missing. Her house isn’t that far from where my parents live. Shafilea’s body was found in the River Kent near Sedgwick in Cumbria. The corpse was deliberately hidden and dismembered. As in all cases like this her parents were suspected but nothing came of it. Shafilea Ahmed’s murder was to be deemed unsolved.

In 2010 Alesha Ahmed, Shafilea’s younger sister arranged a robbery at her own parent’s house. Alesha’s relationship with the family was deteriorating. When arrested, Alesha laid out a bombshell. She claimed that she knew who murdered her sister a stance she had held when she was younger but retracted.

It is alleged that on September the 11th, 2003. Shafilea was picked up from her part time call centre job, driven home where an argument broke out.

At some point in this scenario, her mother pushed her onto the sofa and ordered her husband to “Finish it Now”. Farzana and Iftikhar Ahmed were then alleged to have held her down, forced a plastic bag into her mouth and covered her airways till she suffocated. Shafilea fought to live, struggling against this assault. Her father had his weight over her chest. Alesha described her final moments as a struggle to breathe with her eyes bulging in strain for a single breath of air and wetting herself as the life was choked from her. After she died her father struck her a single hard blow to the chest before getting up.

This was done in front of her four siblings. She was allegedly executed in such a fashion for bringing dishonour to the family. By not conforming to her parents “Pakistani Villager” ideals of what a girl should behave like. If this scenario did happen, then this was a calculated plan by parents to murder their child. What drove her parents to do this was a lot of things but on that day it was because Shafilea went out wearing a white t-shirt and trousers. She was allegedly killed because of the clothes she wore.

Farzana was then alleged to have been seen sorting through sheets, black bin bags, duct and parcel tape. Later when Alesha looked out of her window she saw her father carry black bin bags to his car and drive away. Her mother unusually came and slept in the dead girl’s bed in the shared room.

In 2010 after this admission, the parents were placed under surveillence. Conversations of note include a discussion about whether the police could check whether a car has been on a certain journey or whether the police could track mileage or GPS movements of a specific car. Farzana discusses the possibility of saliva detection which was dismissed by her husband as possible proof. They discuss getting away with murder if one has the support of newspapers as well as claiming that the UK works on proof and without any proof, there is nothing we can do to them.

It’s not for me to decide whether or not Ahmed and Farzana are guilty. I am not in the jury. I do feel that they are guilty but I am biased from the newspapers I read and from historical precedence. This isn’t a new story or a unique story. It is just the latest and greatest. What hurts me was the cry for help that was unanswered. Shafilea’s death was probably avoidable.

Shafilea loved poetry. She loved to write. She was a human and humans are all desperate to leave a mark on the world in some small and tiny way. Her killer or killers didn’t know that. I feel that writing is one of the most fundemental things a human being can do. Writing is an affirmation of communication, tool making, opposable thumbs and everything that makes human beings so special and wonderful. In words people still live and what lives here is pain.

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 cult
ure was different. Now I’m sitting here playing happy families still crying tears”.

Shafilea was in pain. And no one fucking listened. Shafilea died because of her parents, but we all fucking sat and watched. And we knew this was happening. Prior to her death, her teacher Mrs. Code was worried about her due to her continuous absences. When she rang the house she spoke to Ahmed but insisted on speaking to Shafilea. When Mrs. Code asked whether she should be worried about Shafilea, the teenager responded with “yes”. But nothing came of it.

Shafilea ran away from home twice, there was no community support available or options she knew off that would keep her safe from her family. Twice she was brought back often being found at a friend’s house. Shafilea was even sent to Pakistan for an arranged marriage (different papers reported it as a marriage to a complete stranger or a cousin who she never met), when told she was to stay in Pakistan Shafilea attempted to kill herself by drinking bleach. When taken to the hospital Farzana insisted that it was due to the fact that Shafilea mistook it for mouthwash and drank it by accident. In the current trial it was reported as being mistaken for fruit juice. Alesha reported that Farzana wasn’t really perturbed by the suicide attempt so much as the fact that Shafilea survived it. Farzana infact yelled at Shafilea for making such a fuss.

To put it into perspective? Bleach is incredibly caustic. It would burn your throat and oesophagus trying to drink it. It is an agonising way to die. Shafilea survived due to medical care she recieved, but her mother was more annoyed that she brought dishonour. I assume this is because whoever she was supposed to marry decided not to marry the crazy suicide girl. To pick this as a way to kill yourself is an act of complete and utter desperation. To claim that she made a mistake between mouthwash/fruit juice and bleach shows a complete lack of logic. Shafilea tried to commit suicide to escape from a situation she thought and knew was hopeless. And it is our job as human beings to offer. And we can do that by accepting that criticism of a culture is not racist if it is  an honest criticism. Shafilea was killed by her parents because they belonged to a rural islamic culture which placed an inordinate amount of value on “familial honour” and treated women as property or livestock. Her tribal culture played a part due to the idea of honour. Islam played a part as it doesn’t treat women as anything but a set of reproductive organs. Our culture played a part because it is unwilling to criticise real things that need criticism.

Shafilea to her parents was nothing more than a brood cow that wouldn’t birth. It is wrong, it is not cultural imperialism to point it out. It is common sense. It is like a MRA suggesting that women are all bitches or cunts. It is like the Stormfront suggesting that all black people are superhuman crime and rap machines. It is empirically a bad viewpoint and we are not racist for calling them out on it and actively seeking to destroy that bit of culture. To put it into perspective as to how vile this culture is to go back to the events in the story. Alesha claims that after Shafilea was killed, her brother Junyade told his surviving sisters that “She (Shafilea) deserved it”. Junyade is just 13. What sort of culture creates that? It’s certainly one that has no place in my country.

People mock scientists and atheists as soulless. We “torture” animals in the name of medical research. We cut up humans to make them better with (if you listen to the likes of Natural News) callous disregard for human life. We deal in cold hard science rather than nebulous unprovable faith. We follow rules created by men rather than the supposed rules of the divine. It’s not true, we just find different things which affirm our fundemental humanity. And what affirms us is shared humanity. That we are all alive and human.

Sometimes self flagellation is needed to remind us of what happens when we forget that. I looked around and found some of the poems that Shafilea wrote. Read it, and remember that this was someone who suffered violence and pain. That there are more women like her. And that you shouldn’t think that someone else will say something or do something. This is something we all need to do wherever we are. That you irrespective of your gender should stand by these women. There is no carrot in this, only sticks. After this, I think that’s all we really deserve.

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

Comments

  1. YOUIDIOT says

    i read everything you said with respect. until i came across " Islam played a part as it doesn't treat women as anything but a set of reproductive organs" – i'm Hindu by the way. And I thought you were grossly inaccurate with this statement. I thought I'd let it go. Then I saw your piece of writing getting more and more angry. You started to go off on a personal rant. Your biasedness against religion somehow popped up, completely unrelated, to a sensitive and sad case of this young girl….

    " We deal in cold hard science rather than nebulous unprovable faith. We follow rules created by men rather than the supposed rules of the divine"

    This shows how immature you are. This shows that you have no control over your emotions. You cannot give your heartfelt view on a very sensitive case, without coming out with crap on how "faith is unprovable" and "supposed" rules of the divine. You absolute fool. I thought it was a very very good read, until I read this.

    You've even contradicted all your "care for humanity" stuff by potentially hurting all the good, decent, humble religious people who may come across your blog, by throwing your nasty comments out there. Yes, your comments can hurt religious people. Before you feel the need to show off your egoistical views on atheism, which you think are intelligent – which by the way are far from it, think about how your comments might hurt others.

  2. says

    Islam does play a part in the abuse of women. There is a massive issue in the islamic community where women are not treated as equals to men. Not only is there a cultural mistreatment of women there is also an endemic mistreatment of women backed up and defended by religion through the use of the Burkha and religious rules regarding the rites and duties of a woman. Honour killings are not seen in christian society. Hindus have stamped out their honour killings in the west to a large degree as have the Sikhs. It is however muslims who have shown a repeated penchance for female abuse and murder.

    It's not grossly inaccurate. It's a massive problem that no one wants to talk about for fear of being called a racist or a bigot. The facts are clear, most religion is heavily biased against women, Islam in particular. Now muslims aren't as willing to stand up because Islam has a fundie problem. Criticising it will get you killed.

    Faith is unprovable. There is absolutely no evidence for your belief. There is no reason you believe in my old gods rather than Allah or Jehovah or Thor apart from geography and family. These are rules made by man which is why secular law exceeds the law of religion. There is absolutely no proof of the fantastic creatures you believe in. And by proof we mean empirical.

    I am sure there are good, humble religious people. But the fact remains that the two parents in this little story thought themselves to be "good and humble too". They didn't think they were doing evil, they thought they were doing good. And it doesn't change the fact that it is a belief in superstition that clouds minds into doing horrible things based on belief rather than thinking about what their actions mean.

  3. says

    Islam does play a part in the abuse of women. There is a massive issue in the islamic community where women are not treated as equals to men. Not only is there a cultural mistreatment of women there is also an endemic mistreatment of women backed up and defended by religion through the use of the Burkha and religious rules regarding the rites and duties of a woman. Honour killings are not seen in christian society. Hindus have stamped out their honour killings in the west to a large degree as have the Sikhs. It is however muslims who have shown a repeated penchance for female abuse and murder.

    It's not grossly inaccurate. It's a massive problem that no one wants to talk about for fear of being called a racist or a bigot. The facts are clear, most religion is heavily biased against women, Islam in particular. Now muslims aren't as willing to stand up because Islam has a fundie problem. Criticising it will get you killed.

    Faith is unprovable. There is absolutely no evidence for your belief. There is no reason you believe in my old gods rather than Allah or Jehovah or Thor apart from geography and family. These are rules made by man which is why secular law exceeds the law of religion. There is absolutely no proof of the fantastic creatures you believe in. And by proof we mean empirical.

    I am sure there are good, humble religious people. But the fact remains that the two parents in this little story thought themselves to be "good and humble too". They didn't think they were doing evil, they thought they were doing good. And it doesn't change the fact that it is a belief in superstition that clouds minds into doing horrible things based on belief rather than thinking about what their actions mean.

  4. bradleybetts says

    Do you honestly feel that the parent’s strict religious views did not influence their actions? If so then you are an idiot. Sorry to be so personal, but I’m not going to sugar coat it. I’m from the UK and I watched this case as well, and was horrified by it. Without their strict religious views influencing their hatred of sex and misogynistic outlook this would never have happened. This girl was repeatedly beaten and abused for years because she wore clothes tat her parents considered “slutty”. She just dressed the way all her friends dressed, and it wasn’t slutty at all. We’re talking bare arms here, she wasn’t wandering around in a miniskirt and tube top. And even if she was, you still can’t kill someone for that! They tried to force her into a marriage, she was so unhappy she tried to kill herslef, but they carried on anyway until they eventually killed her for their “honour” (in my opinion they have none). So don’t sit there and get all apologist and say that people can’t point out the obvious and say that their religion caused this, because we can and we should.

  5. says

    The first comment is BS. For anyone subsequently reading through these archives in the future:

    When has anyone done anything harmful to another person based on “atheism?” The truthful answer to this? Never. (Doesn’t mean that people can’t harm other people just because they are atheist. It just means that people who are atheist fo not do it in the name atheism!)

    It would be a gross lie to sit here and pretend that Muslims do not carry out horrendous acts in the name of Islam or Allah. Even Christians attempt to suppress people who are “different” in the name of Jesus. (The anti-gay crowd here in the USA actually thinking it is CONSTITUTIONAL to keep gay marriage banned! The fools.)

    There are also fundie Christians right here in the USA who are sexist assholes. Like the parents of the child portrayed in this article, females are not to wear anything other than long skirts. Believe me, I came this close to marrying a girl from a very strict Baptist church who had to wear khaki-colored skirts at work. We both worked at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I asked her out on a date, and her brothers older brothers just HAD to go along. Needless to say, I called that date off. I am not going to be chaperoned by other adults, as an adult myself. That’s idiotic.

    Anyway. I digress. Religious views are more harmful than good. The Catholic Church preaching against the use of contraceptives and abortion as one final example.

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