Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Pakistani-Norwegian campaigner Deeyah wins Intl Emmy for Honour Killing documentary

A harrowing documentary of a brutal, real-life honour killing, directed by a Pakistani-Norwegian filmmaker has won the Emmy Award for Best International Documentary Film.

"Banaz - A Love Story", by musician-turned-activist Deeyah tells the story of 17-year-old Banaz Mahmod, a Kurdish-British girl who was killed at the behest of her own family after she was found having an affair.

The film has received widespread praise from critics and audiences alike; the International Emmy is the latest high-profile honour bestowed on the film after the Peabody Award and the Royal Television Society Award for Best Current Affairs Documentary 2013.

After her win, an emotional Deeyah - real name Deepika Thathaal - posted on her Facebook page: “An unforgettable and very special moment – as well as feelings of joy there is an overwhelming sadness about Banaz and what she went through in her very short life.  I could not help but cry both on and off stage. 

I am grateful for my best friend and inspiring brother Adil being there with me and always standing by me through thick and thin.”

Banaz was born in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1985 but raised in South London since the age of 10. 

At 17 she was forced into marrying  a man ten years her senior and when the marriage turned violent, she filed for a divorce.  She had also fallen in love with a young man named Rahmat.

In January 2006 Rahmat reported Banaz missing.  Days later her strangled body was found in the garden of a house in Birmingham.

Banaz had feared that she was being constantly followed by members of her Iraqi-Kurdish community and paid five visits to the local police station, at one point, chillingly predicting her own death.

Her father and uncle were both jailed for life in 2007 for their roles in her murder and two cousins were eventually extradited from Iraq and jailed for carrying out her killing.

Oslo-born Deeyah is herself a victim of honour-based abuse and is an outspoken campaigner for women's rights and reportedly took four years to complete her documentary.

Speaking soon after the completion of the film in 2010, Deeyah said one of her intentions was to "uncover some of the ignorance surrounding the idea of ‘honour’ within the British establishment, despite 3000 honour crimes of varying degrees of severity being recorded in the UK in 2010.

Banaz had been failed, not just by her family and her community, but by society at large: a society that did not understand her circumstances and seemed reluctant to engage with her reality."

The documentary is now used by police forces up and down Britain to help educate officers and communities about the scourge of honour killings. 

Among Deeyah's other work is the Memini project, a digital platform to remember victims of honour killings worldwide and the Honour Based Violence Awareness network.

Her activism, however, has been frequently met with hostility from conservative segments within the Pakistani community in Norway: "It is not racism to protest against honour killings.  I would rather hurt somebody's feelings than see women die because of our fears", Deeyah is quoted as saying.





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