“My life will always be in danger. My beautiful sister Banaz Mahmod was murdered in an ‘honour killing’ ordered by our father and uncle. If those evil men find me, they will kill me too.”
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Bekhal Mahmod was one of six siblings from a Sunni Muslim family in Iraqi Kurdistan who sought a new life as asylum seekers and arrived in London in 1998.
When Bekhal’s father tried to force her into an arranged marriage at 15, she ran away. This caused her father to ‘lose respect’ within the Kurdish community and Bekhal became the target of an honour killing and her younger sisters Banaz and Payzee were quickly married off to restore the family’s reputation. When Banaz left her husband, claiming he’d beaten and raped her, Mahmod decided this ‘shame’ to the family meant Banaz must die.
Within weeks, she had vanished. Her body was finally discovered, crammed into a suitcase and buried in a garden in Birmingham. Banaz, age 20, had been raped and killed in a sickening plot orchestrated by her father and uncle.
Still fearing for her own life, Bekhal bravely faced her father and uncle in court – making her the first female in British legal history to give evidence against family members in an honour killing trial – and won justice for her beloved sister Banaz. Bekhal now has a new identity after entering the police witness protection programme. She lives in terror of her father’s release from jail.
This is her story.