Shafilea Ahmed profile: Tell-tale signs of a bright girl’s family torment

SHAFILEA first came to the attention of the authorities when she was only ten, when, together with her younger sister, Rukish – who was later to change her name to Alesha – she went missing from school in March 1998. The police were called but the children were soon found.

In February, 2002, Shafilea’s form teacher at Great Sankey High School, Gill Power, told police about a school trip when she was in Year 7.

Shafilea had brought in a signed parental consent form but before the class left her father came to the school and accused Shafilea of stealing money and would not allow her to go on the trip as a punishment.

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In Year 9, the teenager regularly turned up late at school. When questioned by Ms Power, Shafilea said her parents were forcing her to do housework. Shafilea, who privately wrote verses about her plight, did well in her 2002 GCSE exams and expressed a desire to go to college and then to university to study law.

But the last 12 months of her life would be even more traumatic than anyone outside her family could have imagined.

Within three weeks of starting sixth form, Shafilea – a keen student – was absent for long periods. Alesha told her friends that their parents were keeping Shafilea at home. She ran away from home but on 10 February she was snatched “screaming and terrified” from the street by her father and later that month she was on a plane to Pakistan where she would end up drinking bleach in protest at an arranged marriage.

Andrew Edis, QC, said that it was when her parents realised they had “failed to crush her” that they decided to kill her.

Shafilea wrote poetry and lyrics about her troubles, including one titled Happy Family, below.

Verse 1

I don’t pretend like we’re the perfect family no more

Desire to live is burning 
My stomach is turning

But all they think about is honour

I was like a normal teenage kid 
Didn’t ask 2 much 
I jus wanted to fit in

But my culture was different 
But my family ignored

Chorus

Now I’m sitting here

Playing happy families

Still crying tears

But no we’re a happy family

I have these fears

I wish, I wish, I wish

For a happy family... oh yeah

Verse 2

I lay in bed hoping the next day would be better/ It was just a thought 
Because it never happened no

But still I dream of this today 
yeah hey

I wish my parents would be proud of wot I done

Instead it’s you have brought shame
Or something else lame 
I don’t wanna hear this no more No no no