Saturday, March 17, 2012

White woman killed by Muslim boyfriend in Britain

Laura Wilson was just 17 years old — a happy but headstrong girl whose love story across the racial divide would have a tragic ending. Laura’s South Asian Muslim boyfriend, Ashtiaq Ashgar, also 17, was born in Britain but when Laura challenged his family’s traditional cultural values by confronting them with details of their relationship, she had to be silenced. One night in October 2010, Laura was lured to the banks of a canal in Rotherham in South Yorkshire, where Ashtiaq attacked her before throwing her into the water. He was subsequently arrested and found guilty of Laura’s murder and sentenced to 17 years in prison. So does this mean that Laura was the first white victim of an honor killing in Britain? Margaret Wilson has never spoken publicly before, but she said she is convinced that her daughter was murdered because she challenged the code of honor which some immigrant communities still follow in Britain. In south Asian and Middle Eastern communities, controlling the behavior of women is seen as key to the family’s honor. Behind closed doors, beatings, kidnap, forced imprisonment, rape and even murder are being committed in the name of honor. The British government admits that it does not know the true scale of the abuse. The latest survey of police statistics show that 2,823 honour crimes were reported in 2010. But a quarter of police forces could not provide the figures and many crimes go unreported, meaning that the real tally is much higher. Laura Wilson’s murder had the brutal hallmarks of an honour killing. She lived in Ferham Park, a South Asian and white community in Rotherham. Although only a teenager, Laura already had a baby by an Asian man, Ishaq ‘Zac’ Hussein, a 20-year-old. However, he refused to recognise the child and Laura was really in love with his friend, Ashtiaq Ashgar. But stung by Zac’s rejection of her and their child, Laura decided to confront the men’s families and told them that she’d had sexual relations with both men. Sheffield police believe that this was the trigger for a plan to kill Laura. Detective Superintendent Mick Mason said that Laura’s decision to go round to the families and to confront them was not welcomed in the Pakistani community. Ashtiaq texted her three days after she confronted the families. He had asked her to meet him by the canal. Police believe that Ashtiaq began a frenzied knife attack on the girl before throwing her, badly wounded, into the canal. The two men were arrested and tried for her murder. The pathologist in court revealed that Laura had been stabbed in the top of the head repeatedly as she tried to struggle out of the water. Laura’s tragic case is made unusual by the colour of her skin — but her experiences are mirrored by those of young south Asian women who fall foul of their families’ sense of honor. The suicide rate among women of south Asian descent is three times the British national average as many women take what they see as the only way out of abusive family situations — by killing themselves.

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