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dalsingh101

Shamed: The Honour Killing That Shocked Britain – by the Sister Who Fought for Justice - Sarbjit Kaur Athwal

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I read this book a few months ago, and was really moved by it. I had planned to review it because it touches on so many important topics for our diaspora community but to be honest, I can't be ar5sed right now. Might re-read it and do it sometime in future. Anyway, well worth a read. And if you are some sort of weak willed momma's boy, or part of a family unhealthily obsessed with keeping up appearances - you should read this as a warning on how low that path can take you. I think it is a 'must read' for apnay. 

 

In 1998, Sarbjit Athwal was called by her husband to attend a family meeting. It looked like just another family gathering. An attractive house in west London, a large dining room, two brothers, their mother, one wife. But the subject they were discussing was anything but ordinary. At the head of the group sat the elderly mother. She stared proudly around, smiling at her children, then raised her hand for silence. ‘It’s decided then,’ the old lady announced. ‘We have to get rid of her.’

‘Her’ was Surjit Athwal, Sarbjit’s sister-in-law. Within three weeks of that meeting, Surjit was dead: lured from London to India, drugged, strangled, and her body dumped in the Ravi River, never to be seen again.

After the killing, risking her own life, Sarbjit fought secretly for justice for nine long, scared years. Eventually, with immense bravery, she became the first person within a murderer’s family ever to go into open court in an honour killing trial as the Prosecution’s key witness, and the first to waive her anonymity in such a trial. As a result of her testimony, the trial led to the first successful prosecution of an honour killing without the body ever being found.

But her story doesn’t end there. Since the trial, her life has been threatened; her own husband arrested after an allegation of intimidation. Shamed is a story of fear and of horror – but also of immense courage, and a woman who risked everything to see that justice was done.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shamed-Killing-Shocked-Britain-Justice/dp/0753541548/ref=pd_sim_14_6?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=47WA75NSSK76Q22HSP4S

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On 5/11/2018 at 8:34 PM, samurai2 said:

What was the reason for the honour killing?

You have to read this book. I could answer your question, but unless you get a proper context of how this girl was being made to live, it would easy to misjudged her actions  (I reckon).

This book really opened my eyes up to just how different apnay families can be, and how it appears that some of those who are at the top end of our 'respectable society' (meaning they show up at Gurdwaras all the time, have this idealised 'front' that they constantly try and project) sometimes hide some serious dysfunction behind closed doors. 

If this writer's account of how she was made to grow up and  what was expected of her at her in-laws is true, I'm baffled how anyone could treat their wife/daughter in law like that. 

That being said, a helluva lot of Panjabi moms can be straight demented when it comes to their daughter in laws and sons. There is some weird 'control freak' crap that can come out. And the momma of a momma's boy can seriously resent closeness between her son and his missus. 

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@dalsingh101

I am up to the point where Sarbit went on honeymoon.

Having read your initial post (again), i am going to re-read this with a notepad expressing my personal views/opinions .. Initially i thought i would just read and give a general view...but i think it deserves more respect 

 

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1 minute ago, samurai2 said:

@dalsingh101

I am up to the point where Sarbit went on honeymoon.

Having read your initial post (again), i am going to re-read this with a notepad expressing my personal views/opinions .. Initially i thought i would just read and give a general view...but i think it deserves more respect 

 

Yeah. I think this is the most important book I've read in a long while. I look forward to the discussion. I got a lot to say.... 

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I have received this book, and read upto page 79. I think the book is trash so far. This sarbjit woman, has painted such a tormented picture of herself in these pages I've read so far. She wishes to portray her life as one big struggle against the world. I cannot beleive how much of a coconut she is.

 

Here are some lines that have really brassed me off:

"she stared proudly across the room"

"but my culture had more torment in store for me"

"dressed resplendently and in a severe dastar"

"he was pacing agitatedly"

 

and such drivel.

When I started toread this, I saw straightaway that this woman either has memory retention par excellence, or she is a liar. Her story about remembering her first visit ever to the Gurdwara even thought she would have been extremely young, (not yet quite 2) yet realising that the males and females sat separately, made me realise straightaway that she is just trying to sell this to a white audience on the premise that Indian/Sikh culture is inhuman and should be exposed and looking for some kind of reaction from the white saviours of this land.

Then somewhere she says whilst only 4 years of age, she is taught to wash up and launder.

She claims that an incident on a bus left her unable to trust any indian again. I'm lost for words on that one.

At times she confuses Sikh culture with Indian culture and at times when she does mention Sikhism, doesn't know what she is talking about.

 

So far, I don't like what I've read. "Shamed," she is, by her own culture imo.

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I have not finished the book, but sikh and panjabi community is not the same.

Sarbjit kaur Athwal had her own intention too.. (house).... not  to say bachan kaurs plan didn't happen, because it did.. but sarbjit took full advantage of it... 

Big question? Why did Surjit Kaur go to India? How was she convinced?

 

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@chatanga1

@samurai2

You guys are a bit young. lol

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s you'd know that there were some strict families who put girls to work like she is describing. I think it might be hard for younger people to imagine this today. I think those families didn't do it out of maliciousness but because they didn't know better. 

I get your point about white audiences, and pandering to certain biases they have (and I'll have a lot more to say about that later). But from what I read, this girl did not diss her faith - in fact (wait till you get to the end), overall I think her sharda is inspiring. What I will say for now is that goray make a beeline for disenchanted ethnic girls to manipulate them against their community  (especially when their emotions are all riled up). Same with certain sullay with sexual predation. That's one of the points I wanted  to make - we need to be conscious of this. CP already implies that resentful women can be dangerous, to themselves and their families and wider communities, so this should be no big shock to us. 

Plus you have to factor in that it is a female writing, so her opinions and emotions about it all would vacillate more than some males (not all though, plenty of 'men' are b1tch-like too).

13 hours ago, chatanga1 said:

At times she confuses Sikh culture with Indian culture and at times when she does mention Sikhism, doesn't know what she is talking about.

Every last f**ker does this. Plus the fact that we are bumbling around trying to define the grey borders between 'Indian', Panjabi and Sikh culture even to this day says a lot about our weakness as a community is this respect. 

 

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10 hours ago, samurai2 said:

I have not finished the book, but sikh and panjabi community is not the same.

Sarbjit kaur Athwal had her own intention too.. (house).... not  to say bachan kaurs plan didn't happen, because it did.. but sarbjit took full advantage of it... 

Big question? Why did Surjit Kaur go to India? How was she convinced?

 

I've seen tons of blokes get tricked into this one. You tell them they are going on a holiday, and they get all excited about it. Some of our older lot are really good at this trick. And we all know how gullible people can get. I've seen PLENTY of Paks do this to their kids too. It's more common than you think (more in some other communities than ours I reckon). 

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@dalsingh101

I do get what you mean in regards to the above comment. 

But.. lets take into perspective, Surjit Kaur was a rebel..in those times (alleged accusations all be it) she was drinking, going out with mates etc.. in the house hold of bachan kaur? it slightly irritates me to think she would have wholeheartedly  gone to india with promises of bachan.

I really do believe Sarbjit Kaur had an interior motive to this, especially how her defensive expression (in the book) of her husbands  reaction towards bachans declaration of honour killing.

me personally before a scenario we have to break down the characteristics (which gives a perception of motive) 

Sarbjit- good girl, done all the right things... seeing marriage life and her mil (mother in law) made her think "how can i benefit- at same time not getting a bad name) this is just a overall conclusion but we can break down her being left alone in india etc- big psychological effects ..

har'dave' - was a mummys boy but wanted a way out (still loyal to mummy)

Suck'dave' was a mummys boy and thats all he knew. 

Bachan- simple admin cut

Surjit- has seen the 'modern world'- wanted a piece of that 

let me finish the book, but its not a flowery story of good and bad. right wrong etc. As ego prevails in one world, greed also balances it out. 

1 hour ago, dalsingh101 said:

 

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s you'd know that there were some strict families who put girls to work like she is describing. I think it might be hard for younger people to imagine this today. I think those families didn't do it out of maliciousness but because they didn't know better.

I get it- which i think bachan is a admin cut, also her sons are bitches.  - men need to understand the conception of truth, all be it against religion/caste/family/friends...whoever

Would Sarbjit have done the same things a as Surjit? 

 

Also as a man knowing next man shagged your wife-- mate fuk off to everyone, 

- all im am saying is the book is accurate, but at same time the one writing it is not as innocent as she is making out to be.. he knew the game and calculated what was her best interest.

The reason im focusing on Sarbjit is simple..her motive

I get Bachan, i get Suck'dave' and also get Surjit-i feel more sorry for her than anyone...she was the bulls eye..

 

bachan the thrower, the other three were darts with all their own personal motives..including Sarb..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, samurai2 said:

But.. lets take into perspective, Surjit Kaur was a rebel..in those times (alleged accusations all be it) she was drinking, going out with mates etc.. in the house hold of bachan kaur? it slightly irritates me to think she would have wholeheartedly  gone to india with promises of bachan.

That's one of things that bothers me too. If Surjit was of a rebellious ilk, why the hell did her family marry her off to a hyper-conservative family?

How do you know that the behaviour in the book wasn't a reaction to how the family was treating her? 

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I have finished the book after 2 marathon reading sessions. The next part of the whole murder and keep quiet thing is much more interesting. At first, although it is only one side of the story that we are reading, I was thinking that the author (if you can call her that) Sarbjit was a person who was very shallow and not conversant with Panjabi culture. She complains of havingto call her inlaws "Dad" and "Mom." I wonder if she ever asked her sisters after they got married whether they do the same? Sarbjit had an arranged marriage whereas the other sisters had more of a choice in partner. It is things like this that made me want to put this book to compost and rue the £2.74 spent on it.

Coming to the second part of the book, I got more of a picture of what Bachan kaur and Sukhdave were like as humans. Bachan Kaur was a normal, yes, normal, mother in law. She most likely was bossed around by her own mother inlaw, and she bossed around her daughter inlaw. I think that this relationship is quite a fraught, sensitive and delicate relationship. I am seen something in Bhai Gurdas Vaaran about this relationship as well. Basicaly Bachan Kaur is of the old school, and she wants to rule the household. The sons unfortunately pander to her every decision. This is something that they have been brought up with. Bachan Kaur is very much of the old "lakeer de fakeer" stock. Once the  words leave her mouth there is no chance they can be refused, negotiated or amended.

The way Bachan Kaur decides the daughters in law must take khande di pahul is one prime example.

Once Surjit had gotten pregnant by another man, the Athwal family should have just told her parents and asked them to collect her because the marriage was over. The "shame" would then have been on Surjits parents for what their daughter had done, rather than the Athwals. The Athwals made this mistake. Instead of languishing in jail for 20 odd years, they would have probably had more respect in the community by having told Surjits parents your daughter is pregnant by another man, not her husband.

The towards the end, I kind of felt a little empathy for what Sarbjit was feeling. The fear of knowing, the fear of silence, and the fear of the inlaws. Those must have been 7 terrible years to carry that burden. This end bit was actually quite exciting, thinking at any moment now, it's all going to explode.

 

I just wonder whether the Sikh community has learnt from the stupid mistake of the Athwals. I think we have.

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9 hours ago, dalsingh101 said:

That's one of things that bothers me too. If Surjit was of a rebellious ilk, why the hell did her family marry her off to a hyper-conservative family?

look at the boys here, who love a dink bit of coke etc, what do the parents do? Get a girl from india..(that was prob late 90's gen)

If she was a rebel from day dot, who better then get he married off into an "gursikh", "amritdhari" family..

 

10 hours ago, dalsingh101 said:

How do you know that the behaviour in the book wasn't a reaction to how the family was treating her? 

Her first introduction in the book.

She was quiet upfront in terms of her MIL to Sarbjit, another would have been a bit more reserved until a relationship grew.  This sets the tone.

However i do feel like she was not a rebel before, but thought fu*ck it after she was treated so badly. 

We can touch on so many things here.. I still have not finished the book yet, bank holiday tomorrow so will finish it tomorrow. 

Im also pissed off with the sons how the admin cut can you be soo pussified (i get it as ive seen this first hand),... 

dalsingh, as you are more constructive in terms of the direction of discussion, state something and ill give my opinion. (i feel you have not said much, at the same time im week in these sort of discussions-as a starter)

last 2 things, im happy this is not a normal kaan peen jatt household, its a "gursikh" fam..

secondly im glad chatanga has an input, i recall him being from wolves and they are still pendu,,, 

 

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6 hours ago, chatanga1 said:

I have finished the book after 2 marathon reading sessions. The next part of the whole murder and keep quiet thing is much more interesting. At first, although it is only one side of the story that we are reading, I was thinking that the author (if you can call her that) Sarbjit was a person who was very shallow and not conversant with Panjabi culture. She complains of havingto call her inlaws "Dad" and "Mom." I wonder if she ever asked her sisters after they got married whether they do the same? Sarbjit had an arranged marriage whereas the other sisters had more of a choice in partner. It is things like this that made me want to put this book to compost and rue the £2.74 spent on it.

Coming to the second part of the book, I got more of a picture of what Bachan kaur and Sukhdave were like as humans. Bachan Kaur was a normal, yes, normal, mother in law. She most likely was bossed around by her own mother inlaw, and she bossed around her daughter inlaw. I think that this relationship is quite a fraught, sensitive and delicate relationship. I am seen something in Bhai Gurdas Vaaran about this relationship as well. Basicaly Bachan Kaur is of the old school, and she wants to rule the household. The sons unfortunately pander to her every decision. This is something that they have been brought up with. Bachan Kaur is very much of the old "lakeer de fakeer" stock. Once the  words leave her mouth there is no chance they can be refused, negotiated or amended.

The way Bachan Kaur decides the daughters in law must take khande di pahul is one prime example.

Once Surjit had gotten pregnant by another man, the Athwal family should have just told her parents and asked them to collect her because the marriage was over. The "shame" would then have been on Surjits parents for what their daughter had done, rather than the Athwals. The Athwals made this mistake. Instead of languishing in jail for 20 odd years, they would have probably had more respect in the community by having told Surjits parents your daughter is pregnant by another man, not her husband.

The towards the end, I kind of felt a little empathy for what Sarbjit was feeling. The fear of knowing, the fear of silence, and the fear of the inlaws. Those must have been 7 terrible years to carry that burden. This end bit was actually quite exciting, thinking at any moment now, it's all going to explode.

 

I just wonder whether the Sikh community has learnt from the stupid mistake of the Athwals. I think we have.

I think most of us have, or at least I'd like to hope.

Relating the topic to a wider historical perspective, it seems like an important religious-social aspect of Sikhi is the concept of a 'kuri-maar' and being vehemently opposed to it. It would be interesting to discuss this and look at sources. 

But this story says a lot about the idea of shame in our community. Personally I'm of the opinion that we should have some, but should it ever come to this? 

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10 hours ago, dalsingh101 said:

Bachan Kaur was a normal, yes, normal, mother in law. She most likely was bossed around by her own mother inlaw, and she bossed around her daughter inlaw. I think that this relationship is quite a fraught, sensitive and delicate relationship. I am seen something in Bhai Gurdas Vaaran about this relationship as well. Basicaly Bachan Kaur is of the old school, and she wants to rule the household. The sons unfortunately pander to her every decision. This is something that they have been brought up with. Bachan Kaur is very much of the old "lakeer de fakeer" stock. Once the  words leave her mouth there is no chance they can be refused, negotiated or amended.

I don't think you can excuse away this women's behaviour like that. It is not normal, it is highly dysfunctional - and we should ask why Panjabi-Sikhs have this dysfunctional dynamic embedded into their culture so strongly. To me she just seems like a proper jumped up c**t, who should have been brought down a peg or two a long time ago. 

Emasculated, spineless sons are another common consequence of having an overbearing matriarch like this. At some stage (probably during their teenage years), at least one of the sons should have told her to f**k off and calm her crap down a bit. You can say they were brought up like this, but to me it looks like they never had any backbone in the first place. 

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I'm not saying she was normal by western standards, but  by Panjabi or Asian standards. Mother in laws have always given (generally) to daughters in law. It's part of the "respect your elders" tradition. I have met young women in the UK who have complained about their mothers in law saying they are so strict and bossy, even in these times.

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On 5/28/2018 at 12:33 AM, dalsingh101 said:

Relating the topic to a wider historical perspective, it seems like an important religious-social aspect of Sikhi is the concept of a 'kuri-maar' and being vehemently opposed to it.

Kuri mar is a different subject altogether Dal. In those situations people have killed or abandoned their daughters because they WERE girls.

Here Surjit wasn't killed because she was a woman. It was her behaviour that sealed the deal.

 

On 5/28/2018 at 12:33 AM, dalsingh101 said:

But this story says a lot about the idea of shame in our community.

Families do still cling to that, but the Athwals seemed to think that there was only one approach to rectifying the situation. They should have just asked her parents to collect her because she was pregnant by another man. The shame would have been with her father then rather than the inlaws. Instead they kept the child even though they knew it wasn't theirs.

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