19 Feb 2011

Inside the mind of an honor killer - man who slit daughter's throat 28 times says he is a good father

BBC News  -  UK    February 10, 2011

Murdered by her father for becoming a Western woman

By Duncan Kennedy  |  BBC News, Rom

Hina Saleem paid the ultimate price.

A 20-year old Pakistani woman who lived in northern Italy, she was murdered by her father who claimed he was "saving the family's honour".

Mohammed Saleem said he didn't like the way Hina was living her life and told the authorities she brought shame on his family.

So he slit her throat. Twenty-eight times.

"I didn't want to kill her," he pleads, "I wanted her to come back home".

Hina Saleem
Hina's family helped her father bury her in his back garden

Mohammed Saleem has spoken from his prison cell, where he's serving 30 years for the murder.

The BBC has been given access to that interview which gives a rare insight into the mind of a perpetrator of "honour killing".Treason

"I'm a good father," insists Saleem. "My daughter was good before. She was very, very good. Then, all of a sudden, she changed."

Hina Saleem
Hina's father felt his daughter's lifestyle had changed "all of a sudden"

For Mohammed Saleem, the thing that changed, "all of a sudden", was Hina's lifestyle. She had come to Italy as an Asian girl, but had grown into a Western woman.

She refused an arranged marriage, she smoked and she lived with an Italian boyfriend. For Hina, this was normal. For her father, this was treason.

To him, she represented a threat to his pride, dignity and standing in the Pakistani community.

To have a "wayward" daughter like Hina was, in his view of the world, an unacceptable challenge to his position.

For "wayward", read Western. Hina, he was saying, was effectively betraying her roots, traditions, culture and religion by embracing the more liberal life of a European teenager.

"I didn't want my daughter to be too free," Saleem says from prison.

This was murder, but it was a calculated, slow-burn murder.

Mohammed Saleem
Saleem said he did not want his daughter to be free

'Double conflict'

Hina's transition from the apple of her father's eye, to the victim of his murderous rage, is now the subject of a new book called Hina: This is my life.

One of the authors, Marco Ventura, says father and daughter were on a complicated collision course from the moment they arrived in Italy.

"In this story there is a double conflict," says Marco. "There is a conflict between cultures and a conflict between generations, between father and daughter."

Although the murder itself was Saleem's sole enterprise, the project was not. He garnered support from other members of the extended family to bury her in his own back garden.

He rationalises the act of burial like this: "When she died, the only thing I wanted, was to bring her back home."

The co-author of the new book, Giommaria Monti, has given this much thought.

"The parents no longer spoke the same language as their daughter," he says. "Burying her in the garden of the family home brought her back to where she belonged. Hina was their possession."

Global problem

Hina Saleem's murder, of course, is not unique.

The United Nations Population Fund believes that, globally, as many as 5,000 women and girls are killed each year by members of their own family in the name of "honour".

Men, too, are targeted if, for example, they marry outside their caste or religion. But these cases are much rarer than those involving women.

The physical task of "restoring honour", of exacting a price, mostly falls to men.

The legal task of bringing the killers to justice falls to the authorities, but many countries have, what might be called, an accommodating attitude toward such honour-motivated killings.

In the penal codes of countries like Argentina, Ecuador and Syria, there is even a partial, or complete defence, for such killings.

In other words, some societies take an almost tolerant view towards "honour killings", regarding them as a kind of sub-species on the murder spectrum, especially if their purpose is to uphold widely supported virtues and standards.

In Italy itself, there was a legal defence to this form of murder until 1981. That has now been repealed.

Activists working to draw attention to the problem say Western societies must share the blame for their collective inaction.

Souad Sbai, an Italian member of Parliament, founded the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy, a group that speaks out about such cases.

"Cases of 'honour killings' represent a failure of the system of multiculturalism," she says. "We continue to underestimate the problem, because these ethnic groups live their own lives with little integration, especially for women."

"They have very little control in communities where men try to perpetuate the lives and customs they lived in their home country," says Souad.

Mohammed Saleem still feels Hina shamed him, but he now claims he regrets killing her. Not because he lost his daughter, but because of the effect of his murder on the rest of his family.

"It's not only Hina who died," he says "My whole family died. Without my son, without my wife, this is not a life," he says, with a hefty measure of self-pity.

The purpose of talking to a convicted murderer was not to evoke sympathy, but to try to understand.

Did her violent death restore his family's "honour"?

Well, as the family has now been split apart, it's a tainted, diluted kind of restoration, if it did.

Hina's appalling, avoidable, fate shows a very expensive price has been paid.

This article was found at:


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Canadian government offers money to community groups to fight honour-motivated violence against women and children
Muslim cleric, villagers arrested in whipping death of Bangladeshi girl, police and doctors investigated for cover-up

Afghan teen in US for surgery after Taliban husband cut off her nose must also recover emotionally from lifetime of brutal abuse

Afghanistan's child 'brides' face life of violence, some suicides by fire are actually disguised murders

Turkish teen buried alive by relatives in gruesome 'honour' killing

Five women beaten and buried alive in Pakistan 'honour killing'

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British father who murdered 15 year old daughter in 'honour killing' jailed for life, wife fears reprisals for testifying against him

Honour killings' and related abuse on the rise in the UK, but much remains undetected and hidden

Canadian parents and son charged with 4 murders, police investigate probable 'honour killing' motive

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Afghanistan's child 'brides' face life of violence, some suicides by fire are actually disguised murders 

UN report says child brides, forced marriage, slavery, extreme violence against women widespread in Afghanistan

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The Stop Killing and Stoning Women Campaign denounces the flogging of a woman in Pakistan

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  1. Baby born out of wedlock must be adopted - to save her from honour killing by her own Muslim family

    By SAM GREENHILL, Daily Mail December, 22 2011

    A baby girl born out of wedlock must be adopted to save her from the risk of being slaughtered in an ‘honour killing’, a court ruled yesterday.

    If the unmarried Muslim woman’s father found out about the child, he would feel such ‘unimaginable shame’ he could unleash a vengeful bloodbath by killing the baby and his whole family, three senior judges agreed.

    So they made the extraordinary order to have the one-year-old girl – known as Baby Q – adopted for her own safety.

    She will now grow up with adoptive parents and, when she is older, they will explain to her why she could not have been brought up by her biological parents.

    It is believed to be the first time an English court has ordered an adoption to prevent a murder.

    The baby’s maternal grandmother told police that if her husband ever found out about the little girl, ‘he would consider himself honour-bound to kill the child, the mother, the grandmother herself and the grandmother’s other children’, the court heard.

    The identities of all those involved have been kept anonymous to ensure the girl can grow up safe from her apparently murderous grandfather – who still has no idea his daughter was ever pregnant. ...

    The court case came about because the baby’s natural father, F, discovered he had a daughter and wanted to take custody of her himself.
    But a High Court judge, Mrs Justice Parker, rejected him as unsuitable in July this year, and said the baby would still be ‘at risk’ of an honour killing because ‘two and two might easily be put together’ by the maternal grandfather or someone who knew him.

    The baby was ‘quite obviously’ not the child of F’s wife, the judge said, adding: ‘If the grandfather’s community were thus to find out about the relationship between M and F, it would be a matter of intense almost unimaginable shame to him and his family.’

    There was a ‘very significant risk’ he might launch a violent attack to preserve the family’s honour.

    The court heard Mrs Justice Parker had been ‘persuaded by the evidence of the police’ that the mother and baby Q could be at ‘a very high level of risk’ if the baby’s birth was to become known in the wider community.

    The police force in question was not identified, nor the social services department involved in the case. But the court was told that social workers, police and the mother of baby Q were all in agreement that she should be adopted. ...

    Every year in the UK, officials estimate that at least a dozen women are victims of honour killings, almost exclusively within Asian and Middle Eastern families.

    A 2006 BBC poll for the Asian Network in the UK found that one in ten of the 500 young Asians polled said that they could condone the killing of someone who dishonoured their family.

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  2. Two teenage sisters shot dead in Pakistan for dancing in the rain

    Five gunmen killed Noor Basra, 15, Noor Sheza, 16, and their mother, Noshehra, after a video of the three dancing in traditional garb in the rain went viral. It is believed stepbrother Khutore ordered the death as an 'honor' killing for the video. He has since been arrested.


    Two teenage sisters have been shot dead in Pakistan for allegedly dancing in the rain.

    Sisters Noor Basra, 15, Noor Sheza, 16, and their mother, Noshehra, were shot dead by five gunmen after a video of the two girls enjoying the rain shower in traditional dress spread throughout their conservative northern town.

    The sisters' stepbrother is now being blamed for ordering their deaths on June 23 in an effort to restore the family's "honor" six months after the video surfaced.

    That 22-year-old stepbrother, Khutore, has since been arrested for carrying out the attack according to police.

    "It seems that the two girls have been murdered after they were accused of tarnishing their family's name by making a video of themselves dancing in the rain," an officer confirmed to News24Online.

    In the video the two girls are seen wearing traditional shalwar kameez trouser suits and green and purple headscarves.
    Around them are two younger children they run after while directly outside their home in Chilas.

    One girl momentarily breaks from their dance to flash a smile at the camera.

    This latest tragedy comes one year after four women were executed for singing and dancing with men at a wedding in a remote village of Kohistan in northwest Pakistan.

    Tribal elders ordered the women to be shot dead for allegedly tarnishing their families' names by their acts of "fornication."

    Women and men dancing is a strict violation of Sharia law with about a thousand "honor killings" taking place in Pakistan annually to amend acts like this, according to women's rights group the Aurat Foundation.

    Of those killings committed nearly 77 percent end in the acquittal of criminals, according to Human Rights Commission activist Tahira Abdullah.