Sibling rivalry

Is there no limit?

A senior judge has called for an end to the use of the phrase “honour killings” to describe what is “in reality sordid, criminal behaviour”…The judge had heard that a mother had set fire to one of her three children and tried to burn down the house where they lived in an attempt to incriminate her sister-in-law. The sister-in-law “presented a problem to the family” and had fled the home after she had been beaten and her first child murdered by her husband, the mother’s brother.

So let me get this straight – a guy beats his wife and murders their child so she runs away – so the guy’s sister sets fire to her own child in order to get back at the woman who fled the man who beat her and killed their child? And they considered this a matter of ‘honour’? So what would fit their definition of violence and squalor then?

The mother of the children – a girl aged 11 and boys of 9 and 5 – is serving a five-year jail sentence for arson. One of her brothers had contracted a second marriage to a woman in Pakistan who came to England in 2003 pregnant with her first child. That child died after being taken to hospital aged 27 months suffering from multiple injuries. The motivation for the killing was not known, but among the injuries on the child were signs of chronic sexual abuse. The brother and his wife were arrested. He was convicted of murder and she was cleared of neglect. The grandfather in the family is on record as saying that the death was an accident and the will of God. He has made it clear that the son will return to live at the family home when he is released. His daughter-in-law returned to live at the family home and gave birth to her second child, a son…In May 2005, she fled with the help of the police and social services after complaining of severe ill-treatment. She was moved to a secret location after saying that the family would track her down and kill her because they would not allow her to disgrace them. She is still in fear of her life. Later that year, the mother of the three children alleged her sister-in-law and another had entered her home in burkhas, cut the mother’s hands and neck with a knife and poured white spirit on to one of the children’s clothing before setting fire to clothing at the bottom of the stairs…“Her flight and the disclosure of her treatment at their hands was seen by the family as being an insult to them. They saw it – and continue to see it – as a disgrace.”

Her flight is the disgrace, not the way she was treated. Their revolting cruelty and violence is just fine, her escape from it is a disgrace.

Words fail me.

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