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Charity calls for serious case review into Shafilea Ahmed murder

Shafilea Ahmed Photo:

A charity has called for a serious case review into the death of a teenager from Bradford who was killed by her parents, after refusing to be forced into marriage.

It's six months since Shafilea Ahmed parents, Iftikhar and Farzana, were jailed for her murder.

The court heard how Shafilea was subjected to years of abuse by the people who should have cared for her the most. The 17-year-old, who moved to Warrington with her parents, drank bleach on a trip to Pakistan as her parents tried to force her into marriage. They then killed her as she fought against a system trying to take away her freedom.

Now a national charity which campaigns against forced marriage is calling for action. Karma Nirvana have written to the Warrington Safeguarding Board.

Jasvinder Sanghera said: "What we are requesting is a serious case review. This is not about proportioning blame to anybody. This is about learning lessons from her death so it doesn't happen again, so other professionals nationally can learn from her death."

Warrington Safeguarding Children Board have yet to receive the request from the charity.

They say Shafilea's case was considered for a serious review after the trial, but it did not meet the criteria under the current rules.

It is hoped by this autumn forcing someone into marriage will be outlawed in England and Wales. Last year, the government's forced marriage unit rescued 350 from abroad. But campaigners say that is just the tip of the iceberg.

In St Helens, members of the local Safeguarding Children Board are meeting to learn more about forced marriage and honour-based abuse.

Simran Kahani, who was disowned by her family 37 years ago, said for her, Shafilea's story is all too familiar.

She said: "She was a young person not unlike me. She didn't want to be part of an honour code that forced her to do things that she didn't want to do. She was a young person who just wanted to be like many other young people, to have the freedoms that young people seek."

"When she went home, the front door closed and it was like she was in Pakistan. It was a different world. Here we had a family operating a system where she had to behave in a certain way whereby she didn't dishonour her family. This young girl had aspirations. She wanted to be a lawyer. That isn't a crime but to this family it clearly was, which ultimately lead to her death."

The Warrington board says practice has developed and changed considerably in the nine years since Shafilea's death.

But Karma Nirvana fears others will die in the UK unless we continue to learn from what happened.

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed