Somaiya Begum, a 20-year-old woman, was brutally murdered by her uncle after she refused a forced marriage in Pakistan. A U.K. court sentenced her uncle, Mohammed Taroos Khan, to life imprisonment this week the Guardian reports.
Years of abuse
The jury heard how Begum was subject to a Forced Marriage Protection Order, meant to protect her from familial coercion into marriage, violence and abuse. She was just 16 when she first approached police for help.
She was living with another of her uncles and grandmother, having moved out of her parents home after her father attempted to forced her into marriage to her cousin abroad under “threat of violence”.
Khan had a history of violence, threatening his daughter with a knife and being convicted of battery. There was also a restraining order against him that prevented him from going to the house where Begum lived.
Last June, Khan murdered Begum at her house and then dumped her body on wasteland.
Begum was a university student and carer for her grandmother – her murder is devastating and has left her family reeling. Mr Justice Garnham who presided over the case sentenced Khan to life imprisonment, stating:
“It is not possible to identify a motive for this dreadful attack by you on an innocent young woman.”
He added: “Moreover, it is pure speculation to consider whether this murder was part of some appalling family agreement.”
Freedom United partner organization IKWRO, a charity supporting women experiencing forced marriage and other abuse, shared on Instagram:
Despite her uncle’s attempt to silence Somaiya, Somaiya will always be remembered as a courageous young woman that stood up for her freedom, a promising young university student, and a hardworking carer for her elderly grandmother.
IKWRO called for a Domestic Homicide Review into Begum’s murder to identify missed opportunities to protect her and learned lessons.
Following the verdict, Karma Nirvana reiterated the call for a statutory definition of “honor-based” abuse (HBA) to better protect victims.
HBA is the term given to abusive practices to “punish” perceived transgressions against certain expectations and norms, often perpetrated by the familial unit with HBA starting at home.
Coercive control such as family members threatening to kill themselves or to ostracize individuals if they do not obey certain demands is a form of HBA. Violence and physical abuse also constitutes HBA, and in extreme cases this can even escalate into murder.
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