Justice for Surjit Athwal at long last
Following my earlier post Surjit Athwal can now rest in peace - Breaking news this lunch-time of the landmark trial and sentencing of her Mother-in-law and Husband. Bachan Kaur Athwal 70 was given a minimum of 20 years, while her 43-year-old son Sukhdave Singh Athwal will not be eligible for parole for 27 years.
It's taken over eight years of campaigning by her brother Jagdeesh Singh but today was a day to cheer. It's justice for Surjit at long last.
Judge Giles Forrester described the murder as "unspeakable", saying: "This was a heinous crime characterised by great wickedness.
"There was no motive worthy of the name. You did it because you thought she had brought shame on your family.
"You decided that the so-called honour of your family was worth more than the life of this young woman."
People will wonder how a conviction was possible - The BBC report Missing evidence: How police solved a so-called honour killing case without a body outlines the case. Hearing the latest updates from Surjit's brother Jagdeesh today is spine-chilling. Apparently another daughter-in-law after being threatened with a similar fate by Bachan, told her own father the Athwal family secret and they went to the police which started the ball rolling.My contribution today was to be part of the delegation to no. 10 Downing Street to hand in the official letter to Gordon Brown. Felt very privileged to be asked. Was a very interesting experience with all the press and high security.
Part of the Call for Action by Government letter reads
The cases of SURJIT KAUR ATHWAL and BANAZ MAHMOUD (a kurdish women murdered by her father and uncle) have galvanized between these the many issues of official lapses, institutional failure, prejudiced mind-sets and government inaction. These cases are by no means the only honour killing cases. They epitomize the brute oppression, murder and official mishandling that is a common feature of many many female honour killings in the UK.
Besides these are many many more cases in the UK, which have not received full public attention and action.
More background on Jagdeesh's campaign can be seen on ABC Australia.
Read a more in depth report from ikwo - Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation.