Commemorating Swedish victims of honour murders

20.01.2011 - 21.01.2011

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.

The Stockholm-based organisation, "Glöm Aldrig Pela och Fadime" (Never forget Pela and Fadime), provides advice and support to men and women threatened by honour violence. The organisation led a series of activities and events to commemorate Fadime's murder in Stockholm, Uppsala, Göteberg, Degerfors and Malmö over the two-day period.
Seminar at the Swedish Parliament chaired by MEP Ulrike Karlsson, Conservative member of the Moderaterna Party
  • 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.
Peaceful Demonstration in Stockholm.

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.

Vigil in Uppsala 

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.

A peaceful demonstration took place in Market Square in the centre of Uppsala where politicians from the Liberal, Red/Green and other political groups addressed the crowd. Speakers included Ilona Szatmari Waldau from the Uppsala local government and Mohamad Hassan who is a Liberal politician responsible for gender equality and social affairs.

Seminar and panel discussion

A moderated seminar and panel discussion with approximately 20 local politicians and local government officials took place on honour crimes and honour violence. The panel was entitled, 'Honour related crime in Europe: the EU perspective' and included EFD's Roberta Bonazzi and John Duhig. The session was moderated by Michael Cocke, Director at "Never forget Pela and Fadime" and included politicians from the Social Democrats, the Left Party, Green Party, Liberals, Christian Democrats and Modern parties.