Gothenburg: Family on trial for honor related violence and threats

Gothenburg: Family on trial for honor related violence and threats

This story is not the usual 'honor'-violence type: The daughter being threatened, Jian, and her boyfriend are both apparently religious Muslims.  Religious enough to get married by an imam, and not Western enough, apparently, to get married by a civil court.  Jian is not being accused of 'becoming Western' but of going against her parents wishes.  In this context, it is interesting that Al Jazeera recently reported about the changing marriage traditions of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Another unusual aspect is that six of Jian's relatives are being charged, and that the main suspects are almost all women.  Though Jian's family threatened to kill her, according to Jian it was her family's wish to keep the matter secret (ie, keep their honor intact) which prevented them from doing so.


Six suspects are now on trial in the Gothenburg (Sweden) court for threatening to kill Jian (19) and her boyfriend Azan (25).  The six are Jian's parents, two aunts and two male cousins.

Due to the risk to their lives, Jian and Azan, not their real names, will participate in the trial via video link.  The suspects will not be able to see Jian, since she had to change her appearance and does not want her relatives to know what she looks like now.  The trial is expected to proceed with strict security measures.  According to Sune Johansson Jian and Azan are not facing empty threats.

The suspects are being charged with violation of integrity (crime committed by parents against children), threats and abuse.  The main suspects are the parents and aunts.  All the suspects are Kurdish Iraqis.

Sune Johansson said that this case involved family's honor and what happens when a daughter's chastity is questioned.

Jian and Azad's case is one of the few concerning honor related violence which has come to trial.

In the summer of 2007 Jian's parents discovered she had a boyfriend.  Since then her life changed around completely: her father drove her to and from school, she was not allowed to go out without an aunt following her.  Azad comes from the same city in Kurdistan, but her parents wanted her to marry a cousin, whom she didn't know.

Jian says her parents and relatives beat her, threatened to kill her and cursed her.  They called her a 'whore' and told her she was dirty and worthless.  Her father told her he'll kill her with a pistol and her mother told her they'll kill her on the spot.  They threatened to kill Azad and cut him up in the bathtub.  Jian says that the only thing preventing them from doing so was the fact that everybody would then know about the relationship.

Jian and Azad wanted to get married and Azad asked Jian's father for her hand, but was refused over and over again.

The suspects deny the charges and say that the boyfriend manipulated Jian and brainwashed her, and that he wants to marry their daughter only so he could get asylum in Sweden.  They admit that they tried to restrict the relationship between Jian and Azan since they thought he was too old for her, unemployed and threatened with deportation, but they deny that honor is involved.

Jian's 21 year old aunt told the police that nobody wanted to do anything bad to Jian and that they would never harm or kill Jian or Azad.  The family accepted that they would marry.

The social services took Jian into their custody at the end of February last year.  For two months she couldn't meet Azad and then she ran away from the shelter.  She was found by her parents and two male cousins.  The four were in a car, Jian's mother was driving.  She beat Jian with a shoe and threatened her with a broken glass bottle and screwdriver.  The abuse ended when the police showed up.

The relatives deny this and the father says that he was so happy to see his daughter that he hugged and kissed her.

The threats against Jian and Azad are considered very serious and according to newspaper GT, even the people around them are threatened.

Jian not only ran away from her family and sought protection by the Swedish authorities, she and Azad also married secretly by an imam.

Jian told the police she wants to live her life with Azad in a safe place and that she understands she'll never be in touch with her family again.  Azad also realizes they're in mortal danger and says that nobody can save them besides the authorities.

There are currently more than 100 girls living in hiding in Västra Götaland County.  Protecting them costs 1,500-3,500 kronor a day, depending on the efforts required.  The number of such placements increased markedly in recently years.  Before 2003 there were almost no shelters for girls subjects to honor related violence.

Source: GT 1, 2 (Swedish)

See also:
* Sweden: Girls facing honor violence
* Sweden: Honor-related violence
* Sweden: Honor related violence widespread

No comments: