Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Pakistani man has been charged with killing his 25-year-old daughter in Georgia because she wanted out of an arranged marriage

Somber and tearful, Chaudhry Rashid, 54, of Jonesboro, an Atlanta suburb, made his first court appearance in connection with the death of Sandeela Kanwal. He was advised through an Urdu interpreter of the murder charge, and of his legal rights. He was arrested after his wife called police. She reported that she had been awakened by screaming but couldn't understand the language, a Clayton County police report said. She said she was afraid and left the house to call police. Officers found Kanwal dead in an upstairs bedroom of the home, according to the police report. Rashid's wife told authorities Kanwal recently had been married in Pakistan in an arranged marriage. The young woman's husband was living in Chicago, Illinois, police said, but Kanwal remained at her father's home and worked at a metro Atlanta Wal-Mart for a brief time. "The victim was not interested in marrying, nor remaining married to her husband," the police report said, citing information authorities received from Rashid's wife. "This was causing a great deal of friction between the victim and her father," so much so that the two had not spoken in two months, the report said. Police found Rashid sitting behind a vehicle in the driveway, and he seemed "distraught and possibly mournful," the report said. He told police, "My daughter is dead." But when asked how she died, Rashid did not answer -- "he just dropped his head." Ligature marks were found on Kanwal's body and police found an iron and cord by the doorway of her bedroom, where she was found. A necklace was found downstairs next to what appeared to be a prayer table. "Apparently she and the father had argued over the marriage and the fact that it was arranged, and at some point during the altercation he did end up killing his daughter," said Clayton County police spokesman Tim Owens. "Honor killings" - the slaying by family members of a woman or girl thought to be bringing them shame - are usually kept quiet, making it difficult to determine how frequently they occur. The United Nations Population Fund estimated in September 2000 that as many as 5,000 women and girls fall victim to such killings each year.

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