Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 August 2012

Shafilia Ahmed murder: A question of women's rights

Cathy Meadows

The horrific murder of Shafilia Ahmed by her parents will no doubt be exploited by the far right and used by the government to further their attacks on minority groups.

The right wing press focused on a young Asian woman caught between two cultures; a Times editorial saying that Shafilia's murder was "the result of a collision of cultures".

The failure of agencies to support Shafilia, the Times suggests, was a fear of "trampling on religious and cultural sensitivities" and the Daily Express puts it down to "the destructive and divisive creed of multiculturalism."

In fact this case is about women's rights and violence against women. When a woman's behaviour is seen to represent the status or self-respect of an individual man, a family, a community or a country; this is sexism. It happens in all cultures.


In Western popular culture there are many songs, plays, and films where women are mistreated or killed for "humiliating" their partner. How many of us have sung along to the words, "I love you Delilah, I just couldn't take any more" about a man who kills his lover who has been unfaithful? In 2012 the Court of Appeal allowed that infidelity could be used as part of a defence of "loss of control" in a case where a man murdered his partner.

Equally stereotypes about women mean that we don't get taken seriously, don't get believed, get sent back into a violent situation - even, as also happened to Shafilia, questioned in sight of an abuser.

In Shafilia's case, stereotypes about young Asian women will have also influenced the response of agencies. Identifying what happened as sexism does not make Shafilia's murder any less terrible, but it should inform future responses to such cases.

Shafilia's mother's role in her murder may seem inexplicable but women do internalise sexist attitudes and, in hierarchical and sexist set ups, some will ally themselves with the person (man) in power.

But many women and men are prepared to fight for women's rights, often risking being ostracised by their families, or even their lives. Shafilia's sister, Alesha is one such woman and her bravery and commitment to women's rights is an inspiration to us all.

Last year there were 31% cuts in local authority funding to the domestic violence and sexual abuse sector which led to closures of refuges and support services including the closure of two specialist refuges for minority women and cuts to two more. Cuts in the last year to police and court services impacted Domestic Abuse Officers and female genital mutilation and domestic violence courts, says a Lancaster University report.

Further cuts can be expected this year and the charities Refuge and Women's Aid say that women's refuges will close down as a result of planned changes to housing benefit under the Universal Credit proposals.

This is then compounded by the major housing crisis. If domestic violence services were being fully funded, resourced and developed and decent council housing available would Shafilia still be alive today?

Clear message

Trade unions need to lead a campaign to demand full funding and reopening of all services which support women and children experiencing or fleeing from violence and abuse, including the many developing specialist services for minority women and young women. They should also campaign against legislation which puts women who are immigrants particularly at risk.

Just to focus on support services without fighting to end violence against women however is not enough. Any campaign also needs to send out a clear message which condemns violence against women and challenges the myths which are used to justify it.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 22 August 2012:

International socialist news and analysis

Support South African miners

National Shop Stewards Network

Lobby the TUC on 9 September: Demand a 24-hour strike against austerity

Socialist Party Readers' Comments

Zero-hour contracts mean zero rights

Scrounger? The truth about living on the dole

Tottenham: a year since the riots

Socialist Party news and analysis

Fare rises and rail cuts: Kick the fat cats off our railways!

NHS: Dewsbury mass meeting opposes PFI

Another News of the World perjury charge

Doors close after A-level results

Justice for Kingsley Burrell!


WikiLeaks and Assange: No extradition to the USA

Shafilia Ahmed murder: A question of women's rights

Tommy Walker - tribute to a working class fighter

Them & Us

Socialist Party workplace news

And the toilet seat medal goes to... Sheffield City Council!

Southampton rebels continue fight against council cuts

Victory for One Housing workers

Draconian sentences for Pussy Riot protest will backfire on Putin

End seafarers' poverty wages

Builders plan to stop 'Besna 2' at Crown House

In Brief: POA rejects pensions offer

Socialist Party feature

Food: Scoffing on profits

The Olympics: Sport for all, or just for the elite?


Home   |   The Socialist 22 August 2012   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  

Related links:


triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: Fighting for women's rights around the world

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: International Women's Day panel discussion

triangleCaerphilly & RCT Socialist Party: 100 years of votes for women

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: 100 years since women won the right to vote

triangleFighting sexism: Positive discrimination - yea or neigh?


triangleBradford protests against kids' service cuts

triangleVictory: Pontllanfraith leisure centre saved

triangleLabour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget

triangleNorthants council crisis - protesters demand an end to cuts and privatisation

Violence against women:

triangleNottingham 'Reclaim the Night' march highlights cuts

triangleRefreshing, anticapitalist - but little pointing a way forward

triangleWomen and austerity - scrap the 'rape clause'

Domestic violence:

triangleDefend Louise Harrison - save Yorkshire women's services!

triangleLeeds Socialist Students marks 'International Safe Abortion Day'


triangleHaringey protests HDV - but Labour fails to kill it off completely


trianglePresidents Club sexism scandal: what you thought

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Outrageous sentence for TUSC agent in 'misleading electors' court case


Tamil Solidarity

Facebook sides with state repression - reinstate the Tamil Solidarity page



How can students and young people fight the Tories?


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland talks process paralysed



Like rats from a sinking Ukip



Blairite mayor faces open election after democratic 'irregularities' - fight for a no-cuts mayor



Tories raid 1bn from NHS facilities budget - unions must act



Usdaw victory - Socialist Party member Amy Murphy wins presidential election


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil youth march for justice


Foreign Aid

Oxfam scandal: we need democratic aid and working class solidarity



Building support for Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the local elections



What we saw: Tory-Blairite EU love-in



Rent doubles in a decade: cap rents, build council homes!


Public ownership

McDonnell says Labour would put services 'irreversibly' in workers' hands



We can win the fight for the NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

February 2018

January 2018