Banaz: A Love Story
Banaz was a beautiful girl; usually calm and quiet, and she loved to see others happy. She was born in Iraq in 1985 to a large family. She had one brother and four sisters. The family fled to London escaping from Saddam Hussein’s regime. At the time, Banaz was ten years old. For many immigrant men, the Western world means a drop in status because they are faced with a new culture in which women have rights and live a more liberated life. Banaz’s father experienced this change and from early on, struggled to maintain control of his daughters and wife.
The culture Banaz was born into exerts a lot of control over women. Of course this includes control over their sexuality, which begins very early in life when all the women are forced to undergo circumcision. This usually occurs without the use of any kind of sedative or anesthesia. It’s just a sharp knife cutting through flesh to keep women from experiencing sexual pleasure.
At the age of 17, Banaz was married to a man she barely knew. He had only recently arrived, was illiterate, and adhered strongly to his Kurdish culture. After two years, Banaz went to the police to file a report about the way her husband had been treating her. In that interview she told horrifying stories about rape, verbal abuse, physical abuse and threats to her life.
In this culture, family is extremely important, and retaining honor before the family is paramount. For instance, if a man’s wife or daughters seem to be out of control, this would affect how the community sees him and he might be shunned or denied certain privileges. So when Banaz’s family found out about her husband’s abuse, they sent her back to him to try harder to be a better wife.
Banaz disliked arguments and strife. All she wanted was to have a happy life and raise a family, but she finally got fed up of the abuse and she packed a few belongings and left. That was unacceptable behavior in her culture, and so she disappeared in 2006.
This is a documentary film that tells a story of tremendous horror. It’s the paradox of the honor killing of Banaz Mahmod, a young British woman who lived in suburban London who was “disappeared” by her own family. All this happened with the agreement and cooperation of a large section of her Kurdish community. And it was all because she tried to choose a life for herself.
The case shocked the world and her story received a lot of international press coverage; but until now, the voice of Banaz herself had never been heard. Watch this film now.