Banaz Mahmod (20) ble æresdrept av faren fordi hun våget å forelske seg i en iransk kurder. To av døtrene hadde allerede forlatt sine menn, og farens ære tålte ikke et nytt regelbrudd.
A gentle kiss on a South London street captured on a mobile telephone camera sealed Banaz Mahmod’s fate.
When the photograph, taken by a member of the Kurdish community, was shown to Miss Mahmod’s uncle, Ari Mahmod, a family meeting was called where it was decided that the 20-year-old woman and her boyfriend, Rahmat Sulemani, must be murdered.
From the viewpoint of her uncle, a prominent figure among South London’s Kurds, and her father, Mahmod Mahmod, she had already walked out of an arranged marriage and was now bringing further shame on the family.
Two months later, Miss Mahmod vanished. None of her family reported her missing. Only Mr Sulemani went to the police to say that his girlfriend’s worst fears had come true.
Three months later, her naked body was found crammed into a suitcase and dumped in a 6ft makeshift grave below a pile of bin bags, a rusting fridge and a discarded television in a back garden in Birmingham. The bootlace that was used to strangle her was still tied around her neck.
Born in the Kurdish region of Iraq, Miss Mahmod came to England at the age of 10 with her family when they fled Saddam Hussain’s regime.
While her father, who had served in the Iraqi Army, sought the safety of the West, he was determined to preserve the traditions of his Mirawaldy culture.
A father of six and a strict Muslim, Mahmod Mahmod ruled the family home with a rod of iron. When Bekhal, an older sister, wore Western dress her father called her a whore, beat her and demanded that she wear the veil. She eventually went into foster care and, when old enough, severed all links with the family.
When Banaz Mahmod was 17 she was married to a Kurdish man in the Midlands. It was imperative that the arranged marriage worked because two of Mahmod’s other daughters had ended their marriages.
But the relationship was disastrous; she tried to hang herself and later told police that her husband had raped her. Risking her father’s wrath, she fled her husband and returned to the family home in Mitcham, South London.
She later met Mr Sulemani, an Iranian Kurd, and the pair soon fell in love. Because Mr Sulemani was not a strict Muslim and not from the Mirawaldy region, Miss Mahmod’s father ruled that she would never marry him. To enforce this point, she was taken to a Kurdish home in Sheffield and beaten for two weeks. On her return, the couple continued to meet in secret.
When Ari Mahmod saw the photograph of the embrace, he contacted a gang of Kurdish thugs and planned the murders. In one bungled attempt on New Year’s Eve, Mahmod Mahmod took his daughter to her grandmother’s home in Wimbledon, plied her with drink and told her to wait for others to arrive. Fearing his motives, she fled.