21 Dec 2010

What price honour?

One in 10 young British Asians believes so-called honour killings can be justified, according to a poll for the BBC's Asian Network. The 16 to 34-year-old age group interviewed in the survey needed to be persuaded such killings were not acceptable!

Honour killing is a brutal reaction within a family - predominantly Asian and Middle Eastern - to someone perceived to have brought "shame" upon relatives.

What constitutes dishonour can range from wearing clothes thought unsuitable or choosing a career which the family disapprove of, to marrying outside of the wider community. Kidnaps, beatings and rapes have also been committed in the name of "honour".

I quoted that on 12 June 2007 when I cited the case of Banaz Mahmod, a 20 years old Muslim girl killed by her father, uncle and other relatives for daring to love outside her ‘clan’.afshan-azad-e1278336330829 Her body was found in a suitcase.

Falling within that '1% young British Asian’ is the brother of another victim.

Muslim actress Afshan Azad, 22 – who played one of the Patil twins in the hit films [Harry Potter]was assaulted by brother Ashraf Azad, 28, at the family home in Beresford Road, Longsight. Manchester Crown Court heard she was so terrified that she escaped from her bedroom window and now lives in London.

She was attacked by her brother over her relationship with a Hindu man and has asked police not to take action against him – because it would put her in ‘genuine danger’.

In England however, the prosecution is carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service and has ‘minimal influence’ from the victim. In other words, the prosecution can continue without requiring the ‘permission’ of the victim. The victim does not have to pursue action himself/herself.

"This is a very common state of affairs. These prosecutions are not personal, private affairs.

"Prosecutions in our system are undertaken on behalf of the public. Complainants, whoever they are, can be first compelled to come to court. They have a public duty. If they fail to attend court then the court can allow for their evidence to be presented even if they are not attending. The Crown Prosecution Service has a public duty to proceed with these cases."

Afshan azadSo said Judge Thomas, who bound the father Abul Azad to keep the peace for 12 months and ordered the brother Ashraf  ‘not to contact Ms Azad or travel to London’. And for those of you who are wondering if the judge can actually ban someone from travelling to London, the answer is ‘YES’. Judges have wide-ranging powers, though not only necessarily granted in ASBOS.

The prosecutor then gave details of the incident. "The father, having been awoken from his slumbers, with his son shouting: 'Sort out your daughter! She's a slag!' He continued to further assault her, in disputed Bengali, shouting, 'Just kill her!' The assault continued. There was a discussion where she was being called a prostitute."

The threats to kill her apparently continued, the witness told police in a statement.

Reading from the victim's statement, Mr Vardon added: "My father began saying he would do it, a reference to kill her, as he did not want his sons to have her blood on their hands and he would do time for it. Then she began to feel very scared." 

I am from a different culture. I was brought up differently. I taught myself to think differently even from my parents and culture. But I still wonder, not for the first time, how any man can call his daughter a prostitute, and assault/attempt murder/murder and yet think that there is honour in that?