Rania Alayed was 25 years old when she was murdered by her violent husband because she had become too ‘westernised’ and was trying to forge an independent life for herself. After suffering years of abuse she had finally left him, only to be lured to a Salford flat and killed with her children in the next room.
Reading about her case, one of the most tragic things to come from her death are the heartfelt and remorseful words from her father who regrets encouraging his daughter to stay with her abuser for as long as she did.
Mohamad Bassam Mahmoud El Aidi, speaking to the BBC last week after his son-in-law was convicted of Rania’s murder, said: ‘We would tell her, he is still your husband and the father of your children.’
After her death though, he is filled with regret. ‘I wish I did not try to reconcile her with him. I wish I had pushed her to divorce him long ago,’ he said.
The safety of your daughter, the sanctity of her life and the importance of her happiness should trump any ‘dishonour’ your wider community may impress on you, and this is a lesson Rania’ father has learnt in the most tragic way.
There are many cases when the woman’s family are the ones hell-bent on notions of so called ‘honour’ and wreck the most terrible punishments, such as the recent case of 18-year old Saba Maqsood who was attacked and shot by her father, uncle, brother and aunt and thrown into a canal in Punjab, India, for choosing her own husband.
But there are also families like Rania’s family, who do not themselves abuse but bow down to greater community pressure and encourage their daughter’s to stay because that is what is expected.
It is by projecting ideas of ‘honour’ onto their daughters, sisters and wives, that a family fails to recognise the individuality and free will of women. There is no doubt Rania’s family loved her, but families like hers must translate that love into support when abuse is taking place. They must find the courage to stand up to their communities and say that is ok for a woman to leave her husband and that they will support her regardless.
It is too late for Rania and her family, but we can hope that others pay heed to her father’s words and overcome any ‘shame’ to support their daughters before it is too late.
The SHARAN Project supports women just like Rania who have left home due to issues such as domestic violence and forced marriage. We want to do everything possible so that other women avoid Rania’s fate, from campaigning and pressuring government to take action against Honour Based Violence to providing support to those women who find the strength to leave abusive situations.
Please help us to help them, visit http://www.sharan.org.uk/GetInvolved/DONATIONS.aspx or you can text SHRN12£10 (or £20, £30 etc) to 70070.