Ali Irsan Found Guilty

On Thursday, July 26, a jury of peers deliberated for only 35 minutes and found Ali Irsan guilty of murder in the death of his son-in-law and his daughter’s friend. We highlighted some of the trial in an earlier post found here. Since our wrap up, Irsan took to the stand, going against his lawyers at NS Texas Law‘s advice. He declared that he was not involved in the murders of Coty Beavers and Gelareh Bagherzadeh and that he was a devout Muslim who wanted his daughters to focus on school.

The defense tried to paint Irsan as an overprotective father but not who was not angry enough to kill. In the cross-examination by the prosecutors tried to show that because he is a devout Muslim that his daughter marrying a Christian was dishonor on his family.

What was really shocking is during the sentencing portion of the trial, when the prosecutors call witnesses to testify about past crimes they say were committed by Irsan in order for the jury to determine whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole. The most shocking was the testimony of his daughter Nerseen Irsan. In her testimony, she claimed that her father disapproved of her older sister’s marriage in 1999 so he murdered her husband and made it look like self-defense. Her testimony also went on to include her violent home life including details about how her father beat his 12 children with garden hoses, electrical cords, and boards.

He beat me. He slapped me around and called me names. He would punch me, kick me, hit me with sticks.

This Monday on August 6, the defense hand their turn to call witnesses to the stand to testify on behalf of Irsan. They portrayed him as a generous, doting and loyal as they tried to persuade jurors to make his sentence life imprisonment over the death penalty. His lawyers have not determined if Irsan will take the stand in his sentencing hearing.

What Country Has The Most Honor Killings? Who Are The Victims?

Honor killings or shame killings are exacted in a bid to regain family honor after a member of the family has committed an act which brings shame to the family, such as homosexuality, adultery, violating religious principles or renouncing a faith. The four main types of honor violence are FGM, forced marriage, domestic violence, and killings. Killing is the most extreme punishment.

The majority of honor killings are carried out in the Islamic regions of the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. However, there are documented cases of honor violence from people belonging to all of the major world religions.

Woman account for 93% of all victims of honor killings and the average age of victims is 23. These statistics are based on available worldwide data reported from English-speaking media organizations. Many shame killings around the world go unreported, so statistics are often severe underestimates. It is estimated that there are around 5000 honor killings globally each year. Of that 5000, 1000 occur in India and 1000 occur in Pakistan. The honor based violence awareness network has a good breakdown of victims by region.

The methods used to carry out shame killings can be very brutal and torturous. Methods include burning, stabbing, beating, beheading, hanging, stoning, shooting, lethal acid attacks, throat slashing, and strangulation. Many times, the homicides are carried out in public in front of crowds to warn other members of the community about the consequences if they engage in any illicit behavior. Often, young children are chosen to be the perpetrators, as their families know they are more likely to be looked at favorably in the eyes of the law.

Specific triggers for honor killings vary depending on local culture. Some of the most common triggers include being a victim of rape, seeking a divorce, refusal to partake in an arranged marriage and homosexuality. In some cases, forced suicide can be seen as an acceptable substitute punishment. The family force the victim to commit suicide to avoid more brutal public execution punishments.

Many people might like to believe that honor killings do not happen in the USA, but the DOJ released a report in 2014 estimating that 23 to 27 incidents take place in the country every year. However, there is no reliable data summary of such killings in North America. This is due to the fact that following many homicides in the US, necessary information is often not collected because of inadequate tracking systems.

Honor killing has been outlawed in most countries around the world. If you are found guilty, you will need to present a proper defense to the judge.

Jordanian Immigrant Accused of Pair of Honor Killings

Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, a 60-year-old Jordanian American is currently facing the death penalty after being accused of a pair of honor killings. Irsan is a devout Muslim and his accused of killing his daughter’s husband, 28-year-old Coty Beavers, and her best friend, 30-year-old Gelareh Bagherzadeh, after his daughter, Nesreen Irsan converted to Christianity and married a Christian. Bagherzadeh was an Iranian medical student.

The trial now it’s in her third week and is being judged by state District Judge Jan Krocker. The prosecution consists of Jon Stephenson, Marie Primm, and Anna Emmons. Irsan is accused of tracking down Bagherzadeh as she arrived at her home in Jan 2012 shooting her. He is also accused of stalking Coty Beaver and shooting him 7 times in November of 2012. The defense team consists of Allen Tanner and Rudy Duarte (visit their website).  Their defense consists of proving that these two murders are unrelated. If convicted, Irsan faces the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

It’s key for the prosecution to prove that these crimes were connected in order for capital punishment to still be on the table, which is why the defense is trying to prove htat they are not connected. Yesterday, Detective Dousay recently testified 8 key reasons as to how these crimes were connected:

 

  • Both victims had extensive connections to Nesreen Irsan.
  • Both victims helped Nesreen Irsan “escape” from her father’s control.
  • An envelope found in Ali Irsan’s sport utility vehicle had the license plate numbers for cars connected to both victims.
  • Both victims lived for a time at the Beaver’s family home in Spring. (Bagherzadeh never moved in but spent an extensive amount of time there with boyfriend Cory Beavers.)
  • There was phone contact between Baghezadeh and Ali Irsan before her death. An outspoken young woman, she told Ali Irsan to leave Nesreen alone and told him one of his other daughters was sending nude selfies to Christian men.
  • Six months after Bagherzadeh was killed in January 2012, Nesreen and Coty Beavers married. They moved to an out of the way apartment complex in northwest Harris County. Before and after the move, there was criminal mischief—air being let out of tires and cars being vandalized—at both locations.
  • Before and after the move, cell phone GPS records seem to indicate Ali Irsan or other family members were stalking Nesreen and Coty at both locations.
  • Finally, Dousay said his investigation, including interviews with Ali Irsan’s neighbors and family members, turned up proof that Irsan had previously threatened death for people who he believed disgraced his honor.  “It was my belief that the defendant believed in honor killings,” Dousay said.

 

Top Movies That Take A Stand Against Honor Killings

The term honor killing refers to the murder of women or girls, by their kin, who are said to have wronged their family or community. This horrific act has been condemned across the world, but still continues to date. Various movies have been filmed to showcase the reality of honor killings and shine a light into this dark and repulsive act. It’s more repuslive than a severe hit and run accident.

Below you will find a list of movies that condemn honor killings in its entirety.

A Girl In The River

This is a short documentary which follows the life of an 18 year old girl who became a victim of the horror of honor killing, but survived to the tale. The film which won the prestigious Oscar award was made by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. The documentary shows how the eighteen year old girl was traced and fatally attacked by her kin, including her father, for falling in love and eloping.

Aakrosh

The state of Uttar Pradesh is among the areas where honor killings still continue to date. This film follows the true events of a case in the state. The film exposes how law enforcement officials work to promote the occurrence of these events by turning a blind eye when they occur.

The movie demonstrates how local law enforcement officers cover up evidence, suppress witnesses and ensure that investigations by officers from external agencies go nowhere.

NH10

This movie showcases the difference between city life and village life in India. A couple from the city finds themselves in unfamiliar territory when they become accidental witnesses to an honor killing. This creates a real and unfamiliar shock.

Furthermore, the movie demonstrates how men, scared of women who know the power of their mind and use violence to bring them down and crush them.

Sairat

This is one of the most successful movies condemning honor killings; it recorded a record performance in the box office. The movie follows the story of a boy and girl from different communities who end up falling in love. The movie also shows how even in Maharashtra state, which is considered to be progressive, honor killings continue to date.

It’s worth mentioning that cases of honor killings have been on the rise especially in the absence of serious laws against the same. The films above are meant to raise public awareness on this issue, and with it increase the pressure on the authorities to take action.

Arrest Made In Response To Alleged Honor Killing of An Italian Woman

It has been reported that Pakistani police arrested the brother and father of Sana Cheema. Miss Cheema was a 25-year-old Pakistani woman, who died under mysterious circumstances when she was visiting relatives in Pakistan last month. The family first reported that her death was caused by a chronic ulcer and hypertension, however many familiar with Cheema’s suspected that she died due to an honor killing.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term honor killing, it refers to when family members kill or severely injure another family member. This familial violence is rooted in the belief that there is damage to the family’s honor based on the victim’s actions such as interacting with men outside of the religion or violating any of the conservation and traditional values.

Cheema was living in Brescia, a northern Italian city and was seeing a gentlemen caller that was not approved by her family. The family made a suggestion at a different male suitor to which Cheema rejected bring a dishonor on her family. After a rallying cry from rights groups and social media, Cheema’s body was exhumed and forensic reports indicated that she was indeed strangled.

The Pakistani official Irfan-ul-Haq Suleheria told Reuters that police took into custody Cheema’s father Ghulam Mustafa and her brother Adnan Cheema.

Honor killings have been prevalent in Pakistan for several years as there was a loophole in the law that allowed the family members be pardoned if they were forgiven. New legislation was passed in 2016 which fixed that egregious error and doled out tougher punishments for those convicted of honor killings. According to the local Pakistani police since hte legislation has been passed there have been fewer honor killings in the area.

Honor Killing: Celine Dookhran

The charges are kidnap, rape, and murder. The victim is 19 years old makeup artist Celine Dookhran. Celine had begun a new life when she left India. She was living in England and she had started a new relationship with an Arab Muslim. Unfortunately for Celine, her family did not approve of her new romance. The result was the brutal rape and murder that is often referred to as an “honor killing.” While some Muslim women are able to escape their homes and find true love, the past catches up with others. It is not fair nor is it right to kill a person for chasing the dream of truly falling in love. No one deserves to die, especially with the brutality that comes along with an honor killing.

Celine was a Positive Person

According to her social media posts, Miss Dookhran was a practicing Muslim. She posted about fasting during Ramadan and regularly praised Allah. Celine was on her way to becoming an internet sensation. The teen was an excellent makeup artist and regularly posted tutorials on all kinds of techniques and products that she used. After the news of Celine’s death broke, her fans cried out on the internet. Many were singing her praises, others reciting Islamic prayers ensuring her soul reaches Allah. The article in the Independent states that Celine’s friends spoke highly of the late teenager. They were quoted stating that she was a “beautiful Intelligent soul.”

The Accused

The two men, who have since been detained by London Police, kidnapped Miss Dookhran, tied her up, gagged her, raped her, then slit her throat and left her in an abandoned fridge to die. Mujahid Arshid is being charged with kidnap, rape, and murder. His counterpart, Vincent Tappu, is being charged with the kidnapping of Miss Dookhran.

Will the Killings Ever Cease?

Honor killings are an epidemic that does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As laws continue to be passed in an effort to put a stop to this terrible crime, we can only hope that it lessens the number of honor killings that take place every year. The greatest hand we can lend to help is raising awareness of these crimes. By making more people aware of this crime, we may be able to finally put an end to this madness.

Honor Killing: Samia Shahid

The story of Samia Shahid must be heard. Samia Shahid was a beauty therapist in London. The Pakistan native was forced to flee her hometown and her family in an effort to find true love. She found that true love in Syed Kazam. The couple married shortly after Samia was granted a divorce from an arranged marriage organized by her family. Shahid’s family was unhappy with her decision. They were angered and felt that her divorce brought great dishonor to their family. For this reason, Samia could never return home.

How Did This Happen?

It all started when Samia was forced into an arranged marriage with her first cousin, Chaudhry Shakeel. The marriage was abusive and didn’t last long. Samia was able to obtain a divorce, but as a result was forced to run and hide from her family. She met Kazam and fell in love. They got married in England and later moved to Dubai.

It had been two years since Samia married Kazam. When Samia feld, she knew that she could never return to her hometown of Punjab. She knew that if she returned, she may not survive the trip.

The Fatal Trip

July 2016 — Samia received urgent phone calls and text messages stating that her father was very ill. Kazam urged her not to go as he thought it was a trick, but she couldn’t resist. Six days after Samia returned home, Kazam received a phone call that broke his heart. Samia’s family informed Kazam that she had a heart attack and died of natural causes. Kazam was instantly filled with grief and anger for he knew in his gut that there was foul play involved. Kazam took to the press to share his late wife’s story. He told news outlets that his wife’s death was not from natural causes or an accident, but it was the result of an honor killing.

The Killing was Felt in the U.K.

After pressure from the U.K., the Pakistani police performed an autopsy on the body. They found that Samia Shahid had not only been killed, but she had been sexually assaulted as well. The Pakistani police began the search for Samia’s ex-husband and first cousin. When Shakeel was found, he was brought in for questioning by police along with Samia’s father who was named an accomplice in the case.

Shakeel’s trial is ongoing as the prosecutor’s trying to secure the death penalty. However, Samia’s father died during the process of the trial.  

Honor killing goes back to ancient times. Countries like Pakistan, Iran, and India have taken strides towards outlawing honor killings. Unfortunately, many of these crimes go unreported making it hard to put an end to an ancient and brutal tradition.

Five Things You Should Know About Honor Killings

Five Things You Should Know About Honor Killings

Honor killings happen every day, all over the world. In some countries, the Islamic faith has a hold on the laws allowing parents to kill children for bringing shame upon the family. The shame does not have to be brought by committing a crime. It can be for something as simple as eloping with a male partner.  

In an effort to shed light on this epidemic, the U.S. Department of Justice sponsored a study in 2014. Some of the results will shock you. Below I have included a list of five things you should know about honor killings and why they need to be stopped.

What are honor killings?

Honor killings are a form of extreme punishment that is used to regain the family’s honor after a member commits a sexual crime. A sexual crime can be adultery, homosexuality, elopement, or other sexual acts. In the study, the U.S. Justice Department identified four types of honor violence: forced marriage, honor-based domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and honor killings.  

How common are honor killings and where do they occur?

There is no definite answer to this question. The most recently reported statistics are from the United Nations in 2000. The report estimated that there are 5,000 killings worldwide each year. Most of the killings came from regions with heavy Islamic influence in South Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. Honor killings are not limited to the Islamic faith; there have been cases of honor killings reported in families of various religious beliefs.

Do they happen in the United States?

According to the study conducted by the Department of Justice in 2014, 23 to 27 honor killings occur in the United States annually. Due to the inadequate information on homicides, this number is a rough estimate.

Who are the victims?

The average age of the honor killing victim is 23 years of age and women makeup 93% of those killed. The most common victims are teenage girls who’re average age is 17 years old and women who’re average age is 36 years old.

What are the trends?

The number of honor killings appears to be increasing as the years go on. Although, it is unclear if the increasing number of ills is due to and increased amount of exposure or because there are actually more and more honor killings every year. The internet is playing an increasing on both sides of the table. While it is bringing more exposure to the killings, it is also allowing families to track inappropriate behavior by relatives.

As the world becomes increasingly westernized it seems to be a reason for the killings. Nine out of 10 honor killings in North America were because victims have become “too Wesernized.” The report also stated that 43% of victims in Muslim countries were being killed for this reason.

Cincinnati Honor Killing

As citizens of a certain country for a number of years, many of us are subjected to certain values on a constant day-to-day basis. Some of these values eventually become second nature in our lives while others are a bit more difficult to perceive and adapt, especially if we are not exposed to them. Some values which we learn about, we will simply find disagreeable from the start.

Honor killings, a practice most commonly found in Middle Eastern regions and regions of South Asia (though don’t think it doesn’t or never did exist in Western civilization) generally involves the killing of women by their own family members to restore honor to the family name. This is often the case due to certain taboos that the aforementioned women have committed that might stray out of their religious or cultural accommodations. More often the case, these transgressions that are punishable by death under certain tribal points of view tend to involve lifestyles that many of us find to be commonplace and, while perhaps not entirely tasteful to our particular brand of values, hardly justifies corporal punishment or being put to death: finding romantic partners outside of family arrangements (and that may or may not align with the same religion), having children out of wedlock or even simply being outspoken against male figures (or society in general through the use of social media as was the case with Qandeel Baloch)

Sometimes these values clash. Sometimes honor killings go unpunished or with minimal or lenient sentencing for those who have committed the crimes. Enter one Olga Jad Kamar, a Jordanian immigrant who had married and had children in an attempt to remain in the United States even after her visiting student visa was void when she left school. While this would result in little more than her deportation back to Jordan, Kamar had divorced and had a child out of wedlock in that time period. Since then, her cousin has essentially promised her that he had to restore honor to the family by killing her. He writes in a letter to Kamar, “You understand what the punishment is for a girl like you who brings shame upon your family.”

Despite a rejection of her appeal to immigration authorities in 2016, three judges in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals voted unanimously to block her removal from the United States on the premise of her endangerment should she return to Jordan. And while statistics are conflicting with one another, many believe that assaults upon women in Jordan are higher despite harsher punishments being sentenced. Activists for women’s rights and Kamar herself also assert that even for what is called protective custody, women are effectively incarcerated and tortured.

It is an obvious clash of values, and while the concept of honor killing is not strictly limited to any certain religions, the idea of a very stark contrast in views from one part of the world to another is still quite alarming. Because honor killings are generally restricted to family involvement or what some call tribal arbitration, the ability to bring guilty parties to justice can be overwhelmingly difficult as well, subjecting thousands of women around the world every year to its dangers without any recourse. As noted by Detective Chris Boughey in a case involving the death of Noor Almaleki in 2009, “…I learned very quickly that we would receive no assistance from the family…In fact, we received out-and-out defiance and resistance.”

The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo Inspired By Honor Killings?

Lemon Law PA Swedish crime novel writer Stieg Larsson has left a lot of fans of his Millennium series anxiously awaiting each new installment–which is an extremely impressive achievement, considering he died of a heart attack in 2004 and all of his books were published afterward. When Larsson passed away, he’d only written three books of a planned series that was to eventually conclude with ten. Because of his death, the book publisher decided to continue the series with the help of another author: crime journalist David Lagercrantz.

Flash forward to book five, and here we are today. It’s not easy to take on neo-Nazi prison gangs, but that’s what protagonist hacker Lisbeth Salander is doing. On the way, the subject of honor killings is introduced as a plotline for her to navigate herself around. The entire purpose of the novel, though, was to explore why Lisbeth got her dragon tattoo in the first place, and that isn’t an easy thing to do for an author taking on the role of his deceased predecessor. He had to delve deeper into her past–and that involved the all-too-familiar topic of violence against women.

Larsson once did an interview on his aspirations for the series, and in that interview, he admitted that his character was based on what an adult Pippi Longstocking would be like. His own niece also heavily influenced the series, because she would wear black clothes, dark makeup, and wanted a dragon tattoo. According to Larsson, he actually communicated with his niece about how she might react if she were presented with a given situation.

Larsson himself was no stranger to violence, and he was especially affected by the endemic problem of violence against women. His colleague Kurdo Baksi stated his belief that Larsson sourced a lot of material from his novels from real-life honor killings. In 2001, a model named Melissa Nordell was murdered by her boyfriend. In 2002, A Swedish-Kurdish woman named Fadime Şahindal was murdered by her father. Larsson was sickened by his violence, and he wished to help the only way he knew how: through his own writing.

Larsson isn’t just someone who read about the disgusting notion of honor killings and decided to write a book. He was deeply intertwined with the finer details of that gruesome world, as he was also a Swedish journalist who specialized in photography. He was a part of far-left political activism, and a member of a Communist Workers’ League. Later, he became especially interested in fighting against the wave of the extreme right participants in the country’s politics, and the prevalent idea of “white power” that was increasingly popular among the country’s youth.

Considering his past experiences and his varied interests, perhaps it isn’t too surprising that the Millennium series and its characters–the girl with a dragon tattoo, for instance–were inspired by the real-life honor killings that Stieg Larsson was so knowledgeable about.