UK

'Honour Killing' Victim Shafilea Ahmed Remembered In Devastating Picture Reenacting Her Murder

14/07/2015 15:29 BST | Updated 14/07/2015 15:59 BST

This disturbing photo is a chilling reminder of a teenager who was murdered by her own parents in front of her brother and sister, in a so-called 'honour' killing.

Shafilea Ahmed was just 17 when she was killed by her mother and father, Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed, for living a Western lifestyle and refusing to marry the man from Pakistan who they tried to force her to wed.

Shafilea's parents believed she would bring shame on the family. Her father suffocated her in front of her siblings with a plastic bag. Her parents wrapped her in bin bags, and dumped her body in a lake.

remembershafilea

Today would have been Shafilea's 29th birthday. To mark her loss, it has been named as the first ever 'Day of Memory' for UK victims of 'honour' violence, which leaves young women 'isolated and forgotten' according to the charity Karma Nirvana, which supports the victims of forced marriage.

Karma Nirvana is behind the shocking image in the online advertising campaign launching today, which aims to raise awareness of the tragic loss of so many lives.

shafilea ahmed

Shafilea was just 17 when she died

Shafilea's murder shocked the UK, but a staggering 141 British girls have been murdered by their own family in so-called 'honour' violence since her death in 2003. That's 12 girls a year killed for not getting married.

Karma Nirvana say that although Shafilea's case seems horrific shocking, it is "typical". Shafilea was the victim of violence by her family throughout her life. She asked for help from teachers and social services - but she was repeatedly ignored and sent back to her family, who then killed her.

shafilea ahmed

Her parents did not admit to the killing when she disappeared

Her parent's guilt was only discovered seven years later, when Shafilea's younger sister Alesha arranged a robbery to take place at the family house, so that she could use the opportunity to tell police her parents had murdered their daughter.

Karma Nirvana is asking people to tweet to raise awareness of the little-understood crime and to honour the victims by using the hashtag #RememberShafilea.

Throughout the day, a 3D printer has been creating a memorial statue of Shafilea, powered by the number of tweets using the hashtag, which can be viewed printing live online.

The Day of Memory is an continuation of the joint campaign between Karma Nirvana and Cosmopolitan magazine, which displayed a similarly shocking image on its front cover in January, also recalling Shafilea's death.

cover

Jasvinder Sanghera, a survivor of forced marriage and the founder and CEO of Karma Nirvana, says: “We hope to make a real change by launching the Day of Memory. But since the campaign began [in January], there have been another 12 honour killings in the UK.

"People are still being threatened and abused by their families for failing to fall in line with their beliefs. The biggest complaint I hear from victims is the lack of support and knowledge from professionals. Shafilea Ahmed sought help from statutory organisations including social services and teachers but was repeatedly sent home to her family, who took her life."

SEE ALSO:

Sanghera added: "Honour-based abuse affects all faiths and cannot be attributed to a distinct religion. People don’t want to offend communities or individuals, or be called racist, but culture is no excuse for abuse. Training for professionals is critical.”

The charity says that a donation of £20 could provide life-saving support for up to two victims of forced marriage and honour violence, and urges people to donate through its website to keep helplines for girls like Shafilea open.

For support with 'honour' violence and forced marriage, contact Karma Nirvana's Honour Network Helpline on 0800 5999 247 or visit its website

Forced Marriage