Teenager 'honour killing' girl made dramatic plea for help before she died
By JAMES TOZER
Last updated at 00:02 10 January 2008
A Muslim teenager made a dramatic plea to be saved from her abusive parents a few months before she died in what police believe was an "honour killing".
Shafilea Ahmed was seen with injuries on her neck, an inquest heard yesterday.
The westernised 17-year-old, who wanted to become a solicitor, was frightened her parents would send her to Pakistan and force her into an arranged marriage.
After running away from home, she told a local council housing officer: "There were regular incidents since I was 15 - one parent would hold me while the other would hit me."
She said her parents, taxi-driver Iftikhar Ahmed, 48, and his wife Farzana, had prevented her going to school or her part-time call centre job.
Shafilea also said her mother stole £2,000 she had saved from her bank account.
She ran away in February 2003, climbing out of a window of her home in Warrington, Cheshire, with the help of her friend Melissa Powner.
Miss Powner confirmed that Shafilea had lived in fear of her parents. Months earlier she had been off school for a week and returned with visible injuries on her neck.
Shafilea explained they came from a confrontation with her parents over boys' phone numbers on a phone bill.
Miss Powner said: "She didn't have much of a life - she wasn't able to be with her friends and socialise outside school."
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She said that as they were walking to school one morning, Mr Ahmed saw them and pulled Shafilea into his car. Miss Powner said: "He shoved me out the way and said 'Keep out of it'."
Police were called, but Shafilea agreed to return home, saying later that her mother had got down on her knees and promised there would be no forced marriage. Days later, however, she flew to Pakistan with her father.
When she returned in the summer of 2003 she needed weeks of hospital treatment after apparently swallowing bleach in protest at a planned marriage.
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In September she enrolled to continue her A-levels at Priestley College, Warrington, and made contact with Miss Powner. But before they could meet, Shafilea disappeared.
Her family did not raise the alarm, but police were called by a teacher after the teenager missed classes.
Her parents put their home on the market the same day, telling a potential buyer they were moving because their daughter had brought 'shame' on the family.
Shafilea's remains were found in February 2004 beside the river Kent in Cumbria, 100 miles away. A pathologist has said she was probably smothered or strangled.
Mian Khan, who was introduced at the Kendal hearing as Shafilea's grandfather, insisted there had never been any plans to force her to marry.
But on being asked to confirm that Shafilea's father was indeed his son, he opted not to reply after being told he did not have to answer questions which might incriminate him.
Accused of affirming, rather than swearing an oath on the Koran, because he knew he was going to be telling lies, he again refused to answer.
The hearing continues.
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