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A picture of Somaiya Begum

Savera UK statement as uncle jailed for murder of Somaiya Begum

Mohamed Taroos Khan has today been jailed a minimum of 25 years after he was found guilty of murdering his niece, Somaiya Begum.

The 20-year-old was found dead in Bradford 11 days after she went missing from her home on Binnie Street on June 25, 2022.

The student’s uncle, 53, denied murdering Somaiya but admitted perverting the course of justice by disposing of her body and trying to burn her mobile phone.

Somaiya, who lived with her grandmother and another of her uncles, was murdered following the activation of a Forced Marriage Protection Order, which is a legal document that can protect individuals from a forced marriage in the UK or from being taken abroad to be married. The order will also help to bring them back to the UK if they are taken out of the country.

Prosecuting, Jason Pitter KC said there were “fault lines” in the family, partly about “the way in which members of the family interpreted their cultural or religious obligations”.

A jury heard Somaiya’s father, Yaseen Khan, was “incandescent with rage” following the failed forced marriage and has left the UK. He had previously been convicted of threatening Somaiya with a knife, punching her and threatening to kill her.

In his sentencing remarks, The Honourable Justice Neil Garnham said it was not possible to identify a motive for Khan’s murder of his niece and Khan claimed he “did not share the views of [his] brother Yaseen about the role of women or obligations for her to marry her cousin in Pakistan”.

Her uncle was yesterday convicted following a trial and has today been jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 25 years at Bradford Crown Court.

Following the outcome of the trial, Afrah Qassim, CEO and Founder of Savera UK, said: “The details of Somaiya’s death are harrowing. Somaiya was a bright, brave woman who had the right to live freely without fear. Today we remember her as the smart, courageous student she was while renewing our pledge to end ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices.

“Somaiya should be with us today, having enjoyed the freedom she gained after bravely standing against the wrongful beliefs imposed on her by her controlling father, who placed the concept of ‘honour’ above her worth. We must be clear that ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices are not a part of culture, or any religion, but violations of human rights. Culture is something beautiful to be celebrated, and is not an excuse for abuse. We welcome the decision by The Honourable Justice Neil Garnham to sentence Somaiya’s uncle, Khan, to life imprisonment.

“Our thoughts go out to those affected by Somaiya’s death, including her courageous family members who gave evidence during the trial. In her memory, and in the memory of everyone lost to ‘honour’-based abuse, we will continue vital work to safeguard and advocate for those at risk, and campaign to end ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices for good.”

Savera UK’s specialist team is available to provide you with advice and information. Everything you tell us is confidential, unless we believe your life is in danger or you are at imminent risk of harm. Our helpline line is 0800 107 0726 (Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm).