Feature

United Kingdom: Who failed a murdered girl?

In a “horrific honor killing,” a Muslim couple murdered their 17-year-old daughter for refusing a forced marriage in Pakistan.

Is there anything more evil than killing your own child? said Paul Byrne in the Daily Mirror. Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed, strict Muslims and first cousins from the same village in Pakistan, were jailed for life last week for the 2003 murder of their 17-year-old daughter, Shafilea. In a “horrific honor killing,” the pair suffocated their eldest daughter in front of their four other children, the father holding her down while he and his wife stuffed a plastic bag in her mouth. Shafilea’s crime was refusing a forced marriage in Pakistan. It took the police eight years to charge the parents because they lacked solid evidence until one of Shafilea’s sisters agreed to testify against her parents. But the signs were there all along. Shafilea, a British citizen born in Bradford, had repeatedly come to the attention of social services because of her parents’ abuse. Once she even ran away and applied for government aid, noting on the form that she had been regularly beaten.

Yet nobody helped her, said Sunny Hundal in The Times. Why did British society fail this young woman? I am forced to admit that we on the Left are at fault. “Caught between attacks from the Right on multiculturalism and fears that speaking out would be racist,” we have done nothing to stem the epidemic of violence against Asian women. “We must be more explicit about what it means to live in this country, what we stand for and stand against, and what we should and shouldn’t tolerate as a society.”

Multiculturalism has become a “destructive and divisive creed,” said the Daily Express in an editorial. The U.K. is now the scene of untold acts of female circumcision, forced marriage, and so-called honor killing. As many as 10,000 forced marriages take place in this country every year. Perhaps one girl a month is killed by her family. The powers that be apparently fear that attempts to stop such acts “would be interpreted as racism.”

Hold the “liberal-bashing,” said Barbara Ellen in The Observer. It’s convenient but absurd to blame this tragedy on “a culture of political correctness, liberalism, lefty cultural squeamishness, call it what you will.” Is anyone seriously contending that social-services officials ignored brutality and murder because the Ahmeds were Muslims? Shafilea’s death was the result of “incompetence, pure and simple.’’ Her family steadfastly denied any abuse, and with little evidence to go on, a flawed system let Shafilea fall through the cracks. We need to reform that system, not purge our society of tolerance for other cultures.

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