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Posted in: Honor Killings

Published on Jul 05, 2010 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Potential Honor Killing Victim Wants Charges Dropped Against Brother, Father


When a woman's batterer is finally arrested, she is often the first to plead with authorities to let him go. He is her provider, perhaps the father of her children, she "loves" him. More to the point: She is now really afraid that he will kill her because his abuse has been publicly exposed and he has been arrested for it.

When a woman turns to the law—which is there to protect her—she may be endangering herself even further. As powerful as the law may be, criminals do not obey it and police officers cannot be everywhere and at all times. When the law is not looking, the further outraged abuser will exact vengeance. He will kill the woman who turned to the law, who publicly shamed her husband and family.

This is what Muzzammil ("Mo") Hassan did in Buffalo when his wife Aasiya finally got an order of protection against his savage beatings and verbal and psychological abuse. He beheaded her. This is what husband-batterers of every ethnicity tend to do–not behead, but murder battered wives when they leave or turn to the law. This is one reason that so many battered women stay.

Interestingly, according to my most recent study in Middle East Quarterly, only among Muslim batterer-murderers do the woman's family of origin and/or the husband's family of origin sometimes collaborate in her honor killing. This never happens in western cases of domestically violent femicide.

We must keep all this in mind as we contemplate the most recent news out of England: Bangladeshi British-Muslim, Afshan Azad, the Harry Potter actress whose father and brother threatened to kill her and who "badly bruised" her over her relationship with a Hindu man, has been begging the court to release her brother and father who have now been jailed for five weeks. According to the Daily Mail:

"The actress has tried on three occasions to retract her statement and has pleaded with the Crown Posecution Service not to proceed with the matter…This is a desperately sad situation. She never wanted her father or brother locked up."

Afshan Azad

Please note that she does not refer to her own necessary flight and five week "confinement" in London hiding with friends. And please note one more thing: Her brother, Ashraf, takes absolutely no responsibility for what he did and in fact blames unnamed others for the consequences of his own actions and those of his father Abdul. Ashraf has been quoted as follows:

"We are going to get trouble from the community now. It is bad news for our safety, her safety. My younger brother is going to get harassed at college. All our family is going to be harassed by the community because of this. Her career could be ruined. When she goes to a premiere or something, they are going to ask her about this not about the film."

And whose fault exactly might this be? Did Martians bring this about?

I can only imagine the pressure that Afshan's mother Nelofar and her other brothers and extended family members have been exerting on poor Afshan. Just as incest victims—not their attackers—are blamed and ostracized; just as battered women who finally get orders of protection or even kill in self-defense are blamed and ostracized; just imagine the pressures being brought to bear on Afshan.

I would strongly advise Afshan not to go home—ever again. Poor Aqsa Parvez did so (her mother lured her there with sweet talk)—so that her father and brother could honor-kill her for refusing to wear hijab and for being "too western." The Said sisters, Sarah and Amina, also listened to their mother, who lured them home with the promise of a reconciliation; they were honor-murdered within hours. Yes, as I've written many times before, mothers, sisters, aunts, women as well as men, all play a collaborative role in honor killings. Like men, women also uphold patriarchal and status-quo values. (Read all about how and why in my book Woman's Inhumanity to Woman.

On Friday, I must have been dreaming because here's what I wrote, in part, at National Review's The Corner:

"While the British police are exceptionally sensitive to this problem and have helped potential honor-killing victims, the problem is vast and growing. Afshan Azad now needs to be in hiding and protected, on a permanent basis, from her own family. Perhaps she and her actor friends could lead a campaign against honor killings. I would be honored to join them. "

Afshan: You are playing the part of Padma, a powerful witch, in the next and last Harry Potter movie. How would Padma handle this situation? Channel her strength. Defend yourself, protect yourself. As to your longing to be loved by and reunited with your family—perhaps you must give it up, tragic and unjust as that might seem. Even if you give up your Hindu boyfriend, it is too late. You have already shamed your family publicly. Their honor will require nothing less than your death.

Why not contact the women in Britain who are campaigning against honor killing? They will support you. Why not contact Diana Nammi, the co-founder of the London-based International Campaign Against Honour Killings who may be reached at http://www.stophonourkillings.com/.


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