Pakistani parents convicted of killing "Westernized" daughter


Supporters of Tehrik-e-Minhaj ul Quran, an Islamic Organisation protest against 'honour killings' of women in Lahore on November 21, 2008. Human rights lawyer Zia Awan said that more than 62,000 cases of women abused in Pakistan since the year 2000 and 159 women died in honour killings in the year to September 30.


Arif Ali

A Pakistani-born married couple has been convicted by a British court of murdering their 17-year-old daughter, Agence France-Presse reported. Prosecutors said that Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and his wife Farzana, 49, suffocated their daughter Shafilea to death in 2003 because they were ashamed that she wore make-up and talked to boys. The parents have each been sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Shafilea, who lived with her family in the United Kingdom, wanted to be a typical Western teenager, which enraged her traditional Pakistani parents. They abused her and tried to force her into an arranged marriage, the Guardian reported. Before her killing, one friend recalled that Shafilea's mother ripped off her fake nails and called her a slut for wearing them. And one teacher said she saw Shafilea at school with faded bruises and a cut lip.

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A referral was made to social services, but the social worker didn't notice any injuries. Shafilea indicated she was being forced into a marriage but that she didn't want social services involved, so the case was closed, the Guardian said. 

Shortly before her death in 2003, her parents took her to Pakistan and unsuccessfully tried to force her into the marriage. But Shafilea drank bleach in protest and was sent to a hospital, the Associated Press reported. The fighting with her parents continued after she was released.

Shafilea also wrote poetry about her troubled life, some of which was obtained by BBC News. In one poem, Shafilea wrote of her family: "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."

Shafilea is survived by siblings who witnessed her death, the AFP reported. Her sister Alesha told the jury that she heard her mother say "Just finish it here," as her parents forced a plastic bag into Shafilea's mouth in front of the kids.