Ten years ago this week, Banaz Mahmod was brutally murdered and gang-raped by a team of men recruited and managed by her uncle. Banaz was a victim of the repressive codes of “honour” operating within the close-knit Kurdish communities. Forced into marriage at 17 years of age, then divorced after brutal domestic violence, Banaz fell in love with a man she chose, but this was considered to have brought ‘shame’ upon her family. After holding a family council meeting, the family decided that Banaz must die. Although Banaz sought help from the police several times, she never received the help she needed and was murdered, her body stuffed into a suitcase in London was driven to Birmingham and buried in a back garden.
Two of Banaz’s rapists and murderers fled to KRG-Iraq where, sickeningly, they boasted about their role in her “honour” killing. The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation’s (IKWRO) Justice for Banaz campaign was pivotal in successfully demanding that the British government extradite these men to the UK as well as highlighting police failures during Banaz’s lifetime.
Banaz’s story was retold in the moving Emmy-award winning documentary, ‘Banaz’, which was directed by Deeyah Khan through Fuuse Films. The film featured the work of Diana Nammi, Executive Director of IKWRO, which deals with many women in situations similar to Banaz. IKWRO and Deeyah are now joining forces to launch a campaign in remembrance of Banaz on the 10th anniversary of her death.
Due to the massive failings in Banaz’s case, there was an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2008. Whilst it was disappointing that the individuals who failed Banaz were not held accountable, there were clear conclusions that Banaz had been failed by the services which were there to protect her. Strikingly, a report published by HMIC, the body that inspects the police in December 2015, which IKWRO campaigned for, revealed that the failings that led to Banaz’s death in 2005 are still present today, with very few forces ready to cope with the specific demands presented by violence inspired by ‘honour’.
Deeyah Khan said
It is devastating to think that so little has been learned from the death of Banaz Mahmod, and that another young woman could lose her life due to failings of British services. We need to do everything we can to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated, and that British police and other agencies learn to take violence against minority women seriously. The greatest tribute to Banaz’s memory would be to identify and correct all the failings which continue to put the lives of women like her at risk.
Diana Nammi said
We know from IKWRO’s work that lessons have not been learned from Banaz’s case. There are still many women in situations like Banaz, and the necessary provisions to help them just aren’t there. ‘Honour’-based violence is a serious, organized crime and a matter of life and death which needs particular kinds of attention: the fact that multiple perpetrators are often involved, the escalation patterns, and the barriers to women from minority communities in reaching out mean that we need every service to be able to respond immediately and effectively. We call upon the government and all services to work together on five steps to ensure the safety of women like Banaz.
The five steps are:
- Police forces across the UK must take on board the criticisms in the HMIC report of December 2015 and develop effective responses to HBV;
- Other services, including education, health, social services, and housing, must develop reports on their own readiness to respond to HBV similar to that conducted by HMIC;
- Increasing expertise and collaboration across all service providers;
- Healthy relationships education in schools that includes HBV, FGM and forced marriage;
- Secure funding of those NGOs which provide the greatest help to those at risk.
- If we get to 10,000 signatures within six months, then the government will respond to our query
- If we get to 100,000 signatures, then the petition will be considered for debate in parliament
Please show your support.