A court has sentenced a Pakistani-born couple, convicted of the "honor killing" of their 17-year-old daughter, to life imprisonment, remarking that they had sought to keep the teenager in the "sealed cultural environment" of rural Pakistan rather than modern Britain.
For the convicts, 52-year-old Iftikhar Ahmed and his 49-year-old wife Farzana, their fear of losing "honor" in their community was greater than their love for their daughter Shafilea Ahmed, Britain's Telegraph daily quoted Chester Crown Court judge Roderick Evans as saying.
The Ahmeds tortured their westernized daughter for years. And then one day in 2003, when she refused to give in to their demand to get married, the couple stuffed a plastic bag into her mouth in front of their four other children at her home in Warrington, Cheshire. Her dismembered body was found on a riverbank in February 2004.
The trial went for nine years for lack of evidence until the victim's sister Alesha spoke up against her parents in court. Alesha told the court she couldn't speak the truth earlier as she feared for her life, too.
The parents will serve at least 25 years in prison, as per the sentencing.
The judge said the parents' expectation that she live in a "sealed cultural environment separate from the culture of the country in which she lived was unrealistic, destructive and cruel."
"You wanted your family to live in Pakistan in Warrington," the judge said. "Although she went to local schools, you objected to her socialising with girls from what has been referred to as the white community," he added. "You objected to her wearing western clothes and you objected to her having contact with boys. She was being squeezed between two cultures, the culture and way of life that she saw around her and wanted to embrace, and the culture and way of life you wanted to impose on her," the judge added
Victim's close friend Melissa Powner said she hoped the conviction and sentencing of the Ahmeds would send out a strong message to others. "If there is one thing that we pray will come from this, it is that her beautiful face and tragic story will inspire others to seek help and make them realise that this kind of vile treatment, no matter what culture or background they are from, is not acceptable and there is a way out," she was quoted as saying.