No Safe Place

Murdered by our Father

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Pub Date 7 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 14 Jul 2022

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Bekhal Mahmod was one of six siblings from a Sunni Muslim family in Iraqi Kurdistan who sought a new life as asylum seekers and arrived in London in 1998. When Bekhal's father tried to force her into an arranged marriage at 15, she ran away. This caused her father to ‘lose respect’ within the Kurdish community and Bekhal became the target of an honour killing and her younger sisters Banaz and Payzee were quickly married off to restore the family's reputation. When Banaz left her husband, claiming he'd beaten and raped her, Mahmod decided this 'shame' to the family meant Banaz must die. Within weeks, she had vanished. Her body was later found in a suitcase, buried in a garden in Birmingham. Banaz had been raped and killed in a sickening plot orchestrated by her father and uncle. Bekhal Mahmod became the first female in British legal history to give evidence against family members in an honour killing trial, and won justice for Banaz. Bekhal has a new identity under a witness protection program. She lives in terror of her father’s release from jail. This is her story.

Bekhal Mahmod was one of six siblings from a Sunni Muslim family in Iraqi Kurdistan who sought a new life as asylum seekers and arrived in London in 1998. When Bekhal's father tried to force her...

Advance Praise

'This remarkable book by Bekhal and co-writer Hannana Siddique, reveals their awesome courage and compels us to ask: How can this be happening in Britain? Why does it go on? When will it end? Can we feminists be as brave and uncompromising...and build up momentum to stop culturally sanctioned crimes against females? It is time.'
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, author and journalist

‘I was immediately struck by her courage and both moved and inspired by her unflinching spirit. Bekhal’s strength of character is shown on every page of this book. The resilience she shows in the face of abuse is inspiring . . . Anyone who wants to understand how “honour” culture operates – and the effect it has on women and girls – needs to read this heartbreaking and compelling book’

Deeyah Khan, director of the documentary Banaz: A Love Story

‘Banaz’s courageous and campaigning sister, Bekhal, and the distinguished legal reformer Dr Hannana Siddiqui here document the full horror of the violence which can be experienced by women in our minority communities . . . no cultural justification should be made for so-called crimes of honour.’

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

"We already know the end of Banaz Mahmod’s story. Now, her sister, Bekhal, tells us the beginning. Heartbreaking and compelling, it’s a tough read but one that must be shared."

Joy Kluver, author

'This remarkable book by Bekhal and co-writer Hannana Siddique, reveals their awesome courage and compels us to ask: How can this be happening in Britain? Why does it go on? When will it end? Can we...

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ISBN 9781913543051
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Featured Reviews

This is a True Crime Book about an honour killing. I have heard about honour killings, but I have to omit that I never really thought about it. This story may me really think about it, and how it would feel to have your father and brother wanting to kill you to get honour back to the family. I got pulled into this story, and I could not put it down. I just want to save the main character of this book, but she does not need anyone to save her because she is so strong and saves herself. The way this book was written you could really feel what the characters felt. This book will stay with me for a long while. I think this is one of my favorite true crime books I have read. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Ad Lib Publishers) or author (Bekhal Mahmod and Hannana Siddiqui) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that. This book is scheduled to be released on September 15-2022.

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This is a very moving and startling book about the personal experiences of the author being raised in an incredibly abusive family, coupled with unbearable cultural traditions such as honor killings. For most readers, it's going to be an eye-opener and a glimpse into a world we know little about.
I'm struck by the author's honesty as she feels pulled in two directions. She wants to belong to her family so badly that she inevitably sabotages her escapes until the wrong doing is not to her, but to her beloved sister.

A sad sad story that will affect the author her whole life. There is no total escape or happy ending here. One can only hope that time and awareness will put an end to this kind of horrific abuse. Thank you to the author for being brave enough to tell her story in her own words.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I hope it is very very widely read.

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I feel hugely emotional having finished this story. The incredibly honest and open narrative humbled me greatly and it was superbly well written, harrowing and incredibly poignant.
The bravery of the writer really shines through in her writing and the horrors of what she has lived through and the love for her sisters and even the family members who severely wronged her or at least, let her down was so evident.
I feel enlightened and horrified at some of the loopholes and failings that allowed the events to progress, unchallenged, as they did and completely respect the campaigning and awareness the co-authors bring with this book.
Very brave of you to share. Thank you.

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This may have been the toughest memoir/true crime book I have ever read. The things the girls in this family went through are absolutely atrocious and the behavior of their male abusers and relatives is equally as vile. For the crimes they committed, it seems like they barely received a slap on the wrist. The story is of Bekhal Mahmood's sister so called "honor killing", but is also a story of Bekhals life of abuse and of escaping it physically but never being able to escape it mentally. I urge everyone that can to read this book, and see that these things still happen today.

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Bernal Mahmod was the sister of Banza. Banza as people may know is the girl found stuffed into a suitcase and buried in a garden in Birmingham. The perpetrators of the crime were her family she had been killed to protect their honour.

The author has described in graphic details the trauma of growing up with her father the evil punisher. There was so much brutality in that household that no person should ever have to go through. This is a tough read child abuse both mental and physical. Female genital mutilation. Child brides and the ultimate honour killings.

It also goes to show that for Bekhal there were many missed opportunities at the times when she reported things to the police , schools and the council. None of her claims were taken seriously perhaps if they had of been Banza might still be alive.

This is a powerful read that should be given to all. It would be especially good to be used in safeguarding training so people can understand what girls from some communities have to go through.
Thank you Bekhal for sharing your story. If I could I’d give you a massive hug. I hope that you will find your happiness. You have done so much for other women by speaking out.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to see an ARC

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Bekhal Mahmod, originally from Iraqi Kurdistan. Due to her family and culture, she and her sisters had a horrifically abusive childhood. She ran away at 15 instead of facing an arranged marriage to her cousin. This act of defiance caused to father to 'lose respect' within the Kurdish community, she became a target of an 'honour killing' and her younger sisters Banaz and Payzee were quickly married off. Banaz later left her abusive husband so her father and uncle arranged her murder. Bekhal became the first woman in British legal history to testify against her family in an honour killing trial. She now lives in the witness protection program and is always looking over her shoulder.

This was not an easy read Bekhal and her sisters' childhood was brutal and oppressive. Her anger at many of her family members and of her misogynistic culture seeps off the page. This made me so anger for Mekhal, for Banaz, for all the women in the world who've gone through this bullshit, and still do.

This is a very important story to get out there. The world needs to hear the true horrors of what life is like for some women in cultures like this.

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