March 30 2016
There have been 60 murders and some 12,000 honour-based acts of violence reported in the UK since 2010 – a one-off drama, ‘Murdered By My Father’ on BBC3 (online) last night tackled an issue that many still know little about….
*Spoiler alerts* (link below to watch)
By Tasha Mathur
THIS exceptional work addressed the issue of ‘honour’ killings in Britain through a story inspired by true events.
“Murdered By My Father” tells us of 17 year old Salma’s (Kiran Sonia Sawar) secret relationship with happy-go-lucky Imi (Mawaan Rizwan) despite knowing her marriage is being arranged with somebody else. Once her father discovers her hidden affair, it leads to a tragic ending.
The most disturbing aspect of this drama is the sudden change in Salma’s father, Shahzad, played fantastically by Adeel Akhtar. It begins with such a loving relationship as Shahzad insists that Salma completes her studies before getting married that it becomes impossible to imagine there’s no happily-ever-after.
And with the drama beginning with a bloodied Shahzad falling from his balcony, we find ourselves constantly questioning – how does this sinister switch take place?
However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that it’s sway of Shahzad’s community that turn him. It’s the ruining of reputation and honour that lead to his cold-blooded rage as Shahzad explains to Salma, “You carry all of us with you”, “You fail, I fail” and “When they look at you, they see me.”
It’s tempting to over-dramatise such cases but writer, Vinay Patel, gives viewers a tragically accurate account. Salma is your modern, every day Asian girl, living in a typical London flat with her father and younger brother. But that’s what makes it so scary. On the outside, they appear as a normal family but nobody knows what (or rather, who) Salma needs to be saved from behind closed doors. Or do they?
The Asian neighbour closing her blind as she sees Salma climbing out of her window highlights the more worrying issue of denial within the community. Many are often involved or aware of such violence but few speak out, making it difficult to deal with such cases head on. That’s one thing that was missing from this story – the role of the mother (as Salma’s mother passed away), who often plays a large part.
Taking testimonies from people involved in real life incidents as well as gaining expert advice from charities specialising in this area, the authenticity of this programme cannot be disputed.
Vinay Patel succeeds in providing a shocking, harrowing and uncomfortable watch but something that is extremely real. Let’s hope ‘Murdered By My Father’ draws more attention and awareness to this topic, which could help in saving innocent lives.
ACV rating:**** (out of five)
*’Murdered by my father’ first broadcast on BB3 March 29 2016 6pm, available on i-player (UK only):