British-Bengali Actress Afshan Azad Was Almost Killed by Her Father and Brother. Image Credit: Ace Showbiz

The father and brother of British actor, Afshan Azad, the 22-year-old who has played the part of Hogwart’s student Padma Patil in several Harry Potter films, have been charged with attempting to kill her, according to the BBC. Azad’s brother has also been charged with assault against his sister.

CNN reports that the actress, who is of Bangladeshi descent and is Muslim, upset her family by going out with a Hindu man. She is currently hiding out in London with friends, and the case is adjourned until July 12.

When I first read this story yesterday, the headline grabbed my attention right away. I was expecting to read about one of the Caucasian lead characters of the Harry Potter films. But as soon as I saw Afshan Azad’s face and read that her parents were originally from Bangladesh, the story completely changed for me and I feared the worst.

Although nothing has been confirmed yet, Azad’s case has all the makings of an attempted honor killing–an unfortunate but very real and rising trend amongst the British-Muslim community. The United Nations  defines an honor killing as:

The murder of a (typically female) family or clan member by one or more fellow (mostly male) family members, in which the perpetrators (and potentially the wider community) believe the victim to have brought dishonor upon the family or community.

This “dishonor” can be anything from unacceptable dress codes to refusing an arranged marriage or engaging in sexual acts.

Annual worldwide statistics of victims of honor killings are as high as 5,000 women. The rates are especially alarming in the United Kingdom where every year about a dozen women become victims of honor killings. The UN reports that these murders are happening almost exclusively in Asian and Middle-Eastern families.

Maybe it is too early to make presumptions about this case. For now, Afshan’s father and brother are out on bail and have been told to stay away from London. One thing positive about this situation, whatever the outcome,  is the attention it will bring to honor killings in these specific ethnic communities of Britain. More awareness can, hopefully, eventually bring an end to this violent practice against women.

*This post of mine was first published on Ms. Magazine.

6 comments

  1. this seems like an overblown story. given the pressure the muslims are facing all over the world, what better way to make it more convincing by having the events in the life of a celebrity sprawled all over the net .
    and a celebrity that so conveninetly comes from a muslim background.
    as a muslim this individual did seem to forget her identity by cavorting with a non muslim man, since ALLAH bars any such possibility for a muslim woman in the quran.
    i suspect what was just a confrontation between memebers of a family is interpreted by the media as an attempt on her life.
    what is interesting is that we never see any honor killings taking place among non muslim residents living abroad who hav more stringent values regarding social contacts that could result in familial altercations to a deeper and more serious level. the hindus and sikhs for instance, who are known to disown and even kill
    their females if they mingle outside their caste or denomination, should have had the spotlight more than anyone else.

  2. dear anushey,
    i expect you to speak a bit wisely. any family with teenage and young adult children know how a disagreement can blow into an argument. it is sad that the media has taken it out of context and giving it a religious colour and even namimg it honour killing. if the father was so conservative and not with modern times, the girl won’t be acting, i guess she started acting at 16. i actually feel sorry for the father to have loved and raised a daughter who brings so much insult to the father and hurts him so much. i would do everything to love and support my parents who loved and supported me when i was little and without their care i would be no where. the media hype, the general intolerance to muslims and an ungrateful daughter are the main aspects of this case.

  3. I think this sad, I don’t care if your Muslim or not you shouldn’t be taking the live you gave just because she dating someone outside of her family identity. Its senseless and foolish! I’m glad to have a father that gives me freedom to choose who I want to be with, if he raise me right enough he won’t doubt the partner I choose in life! I understand its respect about religion and all, but my lord says not to kill anyone that is of innocent blood. She innocent! =/ I really hate hear about these honor killings, I wrote an article about one and it was very tragic how they kill the girl. She was buried alive, what kind of honor is that? Pfft! more like being a douche bag and a coward! >=[

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