Aisling Brady gives her opinion on the murder of Shafilea Ahmed, a 17-year-old girl from Warrington Cheshire for being rejecting an arranged marriage.
For many of us, our parents are the greatest source of love, unconditional love. Our parents give us values and moral grounding. Good parents try to support us in our education, in our careers; many parents even encourage open discussions about sex.
Some parents fail to give their children the best lives they can or are absent in the lives of their children. This can cause great emotional pain, but that pain is only a fraction of what Shafilea Ahmed suffered.
Shafilea Ahmed always lived in fear of her parents, Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed. They imposed strict discipline,which was a strict take on traditional Muslim culture. They believed in torturing, brainwashing and placing the ‘fear of God’ in their children in order to ensure they conformed to their rules.
The reports on Shafilea’s death would move the most hardened of detectives and crime reporters. Shafilea’s first encounter with death occurred when she was drugged and flown to Pakistan to marry a man ten years her senior.
She awoke startled in her Grandmother’s home in Pakistan, to find out she was going to be forced into marriage. In a desperate attempt to save herself, she resorted to drinking bleach. She caused severe damage to her throat and had to be brought home to hospital. The only reason she escaped the marriage was because of the medical complications from her suicide attempt.
On Septemer the 11th 2003, Farzana Ahmed picked her daughter up from work. She was angered by Shafilea’s ‘indecent clothes’ and told her she had brought ‘shame’ on the family. Shafilea, like many of her young contemporaries, wanted to wear short skirts, tight fitted clothing and high heels. When they got home, Farzana pinned Shafilea down and ordered her husband in Punjabi, to ‘Just finish it here’. The four other children saw them force a plastic bag into her mouth and choke her to death.
Her parents then dumped her body into a river in Cumbria.
This terrible tragedy reminds us of how fear and the use of violence to gain control of a person causes immense suffering both physically and mentally. It is disgusting, that humans exert power on others through physical abuse, verbal abuse and violence.
It is ironic that Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were more concerned about being ‘A well-regarded family’ in their local community in rural Pakistan. They refused to allow Shafilea enjoy the freedom we all take for granted in Western society. They often imprisoned her; locked her in her room, prohibited her attending school and starved her because she was engaging in western culture. They saw her “determination” and “ambition” as a sin.
What is even more alarming is how the four other children remained silent for nearly 9 years. It is evident the power their parents had over them and how they had thwarted their morality. They had witnessed the sheer evil of their sisters murder, and yet were brainwashed into secrecy for a long period of time. Their parents had manipulated them and trained them on what to say and what not to say.
It is a miracle that Shafilea’s sister was arrested on suspicion of organising a robbery in her family home. She was at University and she was under financial pressure. She lived in fear, wondering if she would face the same fate her sister had. Her parents began talking of her going to Pakistan to marry. She was broke, so she organised accomplices to break into her family home to steal for her. This led to her giving a full confession and account of the day Shafilea was murdered.
It is also testament that justice surfaces in the depths of evil. The youngest sister, Mevish, had kept a diary of the whole atrocity. Although she denied her own words, it was enough evidence to prove Shafilea’s parents had murdered her. Shafila’s parents escaped justice for 9 years as they accused officers of stereotyping and victimising them after their daughters body was found.
As the judge who presided over the case said “Your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than your love of your child.”
Her brother remained loyal to his parents and refused to engage in revealing any details of the murder. It was only on the 8th week of the trial that the narcissistic mother Farzana Ahmed, admitted to supporting the murder of her daughter, as she lived in fear of her husband.
It is clear that the family will be tainted by this harrowing murder for the rest of their lives. It is important we take a positive element from this terrible tragedy and live in the hope that others will learn from this devastating story of a young girl name Shafila. Her legacy will live on, as a bright and intelligent girl who fought for justice for women. She may not have become a lawyer, but it is evident she was one at heart. She was more courageous and brave in her attempts to defend her rights and the rights of women in comparison to any lawyer, in the world today.