Warrant: Man killed daughter, says she 'disgraced' family..
TFSnewsRoom/Ajc.com Posted Jul 10, 2008 11:28 PM
Warrant: Man killed daughter, says she 'disgraced' family
He said she cheated on her husband, filed for divorce, but said he himself 'did nothing wrong'
By MARY LOU PICKEL, KATHY JEFCOATS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/10/08
A Pakistani immigrant who strangled his daughter because she wanted to end her arranged marriage did it because she "would disgrace the family," according to an arrest warrant.
Chaudhry Rashid, 56, of Jonesboro, told police he is Muslim and that extra-marital affairs and divorce are against his religion. That's why he killed her, the Clayton County arrest warrant says.
In court this week Rashid said, "I have done nothing wrong."
Honor killings are more common in Muslim countries, but have also been reported in Latin America and other regions. A Canadian man of Pakistani origin was accused of killing his daughter last year in relation to her reluctance to wear a Muslim head scarf.
As many as 5,000 females each year are victims of honor killings, according to a 2000 United Nations Population Fund report.
The Clayton County case has put a spotlight not only on honor killings, but also on the tradition of arranged marriage still common among South Asian immigrants in the United States.
Sandeela Kanwal, 25, of Jonesboro argued with her father as they drove home from her job at Wal-Mart Sunday night, according to the arrest warrant. He was angry about her extra-marital affair and her desire for a divorce from a husband she didn't love. Kanwal married Majid Latif in an arranged marriage in the Punjab province of Pakistan in 2002.
When Kanwal said she would not reconsider her ending her six-year marriage – she filed divorce papers this month – Rashid became enraged. He took a bungee cord that he had carried from the car into the house and strangled his daughter in her bedroom. The warrant says he put the cord in his pocket so his daughter didn't see it.
Police charged Rashid with murder.
In honor killings, women are killed by relatives for exhibiting a lack of modesty.
The killings are usually in response to a woman wanting a divorce, wanting to choose a marriage partner, or even if she is raped, according to a 1999 Amnesty International report. The woman is considered to have brought shame on the family.
Pakistan passed a law in 2004 banning honor killings, but the practice hasn't slowed, according to a United Nations committee charged with promoting women's rights. Honor killings stem more from tribal traditions and are not supported by religious doctrine.
Islam allows for divorce if the husband and wife cannot live peacefully together, said Zahid Abdullah, imam of the Al-Farooq Masjid mosque in Midtown Atlanta. "Killing anyone is not allowed," Imam Abdullah said. "A daughter is a daughter."
Islam is not opposed to arranged marriages as long as they are done with the approval of the person getting married, Imam Abdullah said.
Arranged marriages are a custom that stem from a time when people married within their tribes, said Fazi Khan, owner of Al Hamrah, a Pakistani grocery store in Lilburn.
"The majority of the arranged marriages work out better than the love marriages," said Khan, whose second marriage was arranged. "It's not so much the boy and the girl who get married, it's the families that get married," he said. "It is the pressure of the family that keeps the marriages together," Khan said.
On the other hand, if the parents took an active role in arranging the marriage, they cannot blame the children entirely if it does not work out, Khan said. "They were a part of it," he said.
Kanwal filed for divorce July 1 from her husband who lives in Chicago, according to Clayton Superior Court records. She had not seen her husband for three months and had not spoken to her father in two months because of their disagreement on the matter.
Rehan Khan, no relation to Fazi Khan, lives in Henry County and says he was surprised by news of the murder.
He supports arranged marriage and plans to help his children choose spouses when the time comes. The Pakistani immigrant, now a U.S. citizen, will check out a young man, and if he's satisfied with his potential, he will introduce him to his daughter and encourage a friendship. No dating will be allowed, he said.
"I'll tell my daughter, 'Mr. X, Y, or Z is intelligent,'" Khan said. "I don't want to give my daughter to someone who is not established," he said.
When marital problems arise, fathers usually take the side of their child, Fazi Khan said.
"Fathers would generally do anything to defend the daughter," he said.