Malmö: Woman dies after balcony fall, honor-murder suspected

Malmö: Woman dies after balcony fall, honor-murder suspected

A 28 year old woman died after falling from her 3rd story apartment's kitchen window Sunday evening.  The woman, from Morocco, had come to Malmö (Sweden) a few days ago and moved in with her husband (32) from the Middle East.  Police say that the couple were the only ones in the apartment at the time and suspect this was an honor-murder.  They are now looking for witnesses.

The woman's husband was arrested but released several hours later (on Monday morning).   Carin Brange, police spokesperson, says that the prosecutor decided the husband can be released but that he is still being investigated.

Leif Fransson, head of the department for domestic violence by the Malmö police, says that they assume it's a serious crime and that it's based on honor issues, but that they'll see what the investigation shows.  He says that it's striking that the husband was freed so quickly, since in cases of honor murder people often try to make it look like suicide or an accident, and it would have been better to speak more with the husband.

Devin Rexvid of the Department for Social Work at Stockholm University, who researchers honor-related crimes, says it was inappropriate to release the husband and can upset the investigation.

Devin Rexvid is doing a study about the case in Malmö where a 16 year old girl died in February of last year after falling from a balcony.  The girl's brother and step-father were arrested for murder, but the investigation was later closed.  In 2007 a girl died and three were injured falling from balconies.  In all cases the police suspected a crime was committed, but none of the cases led to prosecutions.

Rexvid says that the evidence is the most difficult.  There are insufficient procedures to investigate this type of crime.  He thinks the police should use experts more often.  There are some people within the police who have the expertise and experience from similar cases and they should be called into the investigation at the preliminary stages.

Rexvid also calls for better cooperation between the police, schools and the social services, saying the latter two should be more engaged when it comes to young girls who have fallen from balconies.

Pernilla Ouis, assistant lecturer at Malmö University and an expert in honor oppression, says that women falling from balconies exists as a murder method in the Middle East.  She can't comment about the current case, but confirms that honor killings are probably much more common than we believe.

She says that most often people make it to look like suicide or an accident, and that we've seen this both in Sweden and abroad.   Pernilla Ouis calls for stricter laws, such as collective punishment of the type found in Denmark, in order to deal with honor violence.  She says the perpetrator is seldom alone, many time a whole family can be involved.

After several incidents which caught the public attention, such as the murders of Pela Atroshi and Fadime Sahindal, Swedish police focused on addressing honor violence.  Police agents were trained to quickly recognize honor-related crimes and to better respond to its victims. 

Pernilla Ouis says that they still know too little about this type of crime and that more efforts are needed.  She thinks it's sad that honor-oppression only gets attention when it leads to murder, since it's something that goes on all the time and affects many young women.

Sources: KVP, SVT, SvD, Sydsvenskan (Swedish)

See also:
* Italy: Pakistani girl (15) jumps out of balcony to escape arranged marriage
* Sweden: Gov't funds fight against honor crimes
* Sweden: Falling off a balcony

No comments: