Commemorating Swedish victims of honour murders
On 20 and 21 January 2011, EFD participated in a series of events in Sweden to commemorate the 9th anniversary of the murder of Fadime Sahindal, a young Kurdish-Swedish woman, shot by her father in 2002 for the crime of offending the family's code of honour. What was Fadime's crime? She had a Swedish boyfriend, and was shot dead for it.
- Valentina Colombo, EFD senior fellow and author of several books on Islam and women addressed honour violence in Italy. She discussed the Italian government's measures at regional and national levels to address honor violence. She outlined initiatives that will be organised with survivors in Rome with Italian lawmakers.
- Jasvinder Sanghera, director of the UK honour crimes campaigning organisation, Karma Nirvana addressed the conference on forced marriage and honour abuse. By telling her own graphic story as a survivor of abuse, Jasvinder explained the concept of honour and how it can impact on the lives of men and women. The honour culture, she explained, involves a complex set of rules that an Asian woman has to follow to protect the family name and it can create dependency, isolation and a loss of individualism. In 95% of cases, Jasvinder has found that it leads to individuals living in fear of their immediate and extended family. Karma Nirvana assists young men and women who wish to remove themselves from the oppressive nature and constraints of the honour culture and lead independent lives. The organisation operates the only dedicated Honour Network Helpline in the UK and is partly funded by the UK government.
- Roberta Bonazzi, EFD executive director, addressed the seminar on the fact that honour crimes and violence is an increasingly European phenomenon, prevalent in many different countries including Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and many other EU member states. She outlined some of the initiatives that the European Parliament is undertaking to raise awareness about its prevalence and address the root causes of 'honour' culture. EFD is empowering activists in European countries through its Liberal Muslim Network to address and prevent honour violence and crime.
A peaceful demonstration took place in the square in central Stockholm at which a number of MPs including Désirée Pethrus Engström, (Conservative), Bodil Ceballos (Socialist) and Anna Steele Karlström (Liberal) who all expressed solidarity on the anniversary of Fadime's murder. They spoke of the need to tackle the causes in Swedish society of honour culture and violence. They underlined the importance of continueing material and other support to individuals and organisations that provide assistance to vulnerable youth. Sara Mohammad reminded the crowd to recognise that cultural relativism still permeates politics in Sweden and elsewhere today.
On 21st January, a vigil was held at the graveside of Fadime Sahindal at the Uppsala cemetery. The city is located some 70km north of Stockholm. Many local politicians as well as members of the general public attended. A Canadian documentary maker, Raymonde Provencher filmed the vigil as part of a documentary on honour crime and culture in Europe.
Seminar and panel discussion