Honour killing story

born: 1979
Doused in gasoline and set on fire: June 13, 1997
Residence: Dormagen/Neuss
Origin: Lebanon
Children: none at the time of the crime
Perpetrator: her father Kassem (43 years old at the time of the crime)
Maha's family came to Germany from Lebanon in 1985. Later, her mother lives with the four (or more) children in Dormagen. The father lives separately in Neuss. But he visits often. He is violent toward the children. He breaks his wife's arm during an argument. He loses his job as a truck driver for drunk driving.

During a visit on June 13, 1997, Kassem learns that his daughter Maha has an Iraqi Kurdish boyfriend named Ali, who is 8 years older. He disagrees with this. In an adjoining room, he mixes a highly flammable turpentine gasoline mixture. He douses his daughter with it and sets her on fire.

Maha runs outside and rolls on the wet lawn. A neighbor arrives with a blanket and smothers the flames. The 18-year-old is flown by rescue helicopter to a special clinic in Cologne. More than half of her skin is burned, she undergoes more than 20 operations, she is in a coma for 10 weeks, her left hand has no fingers left. Her face also remains disfigured.

The father flees, but is arrested a few hours later. For his crime, he is sentenced to life in prison by the Düsseldorf Regional Court in 1998. Still in the corridors of the court, he accuses Maha of having tarnished the family honor. If he is ever released, he will probably be deported. But Maha and her family are still threatened by her father's clan.

Maha, despite her injuries, goes through training as an industrial clerk and marries her childhood German sweetheart Kalle Schaaf, a security guard, in 2002 in Dormagen. They have two daughters.

What is an honour killing?

An honour killing is a murder in the name of honour. If a brother murders his sister to restore family honour, it is an honour killing. According to activists, the most common reasons for honour killings are as the victim:

Questions about honour killings

  • refuses to cooperate in an arranged marriage.

  • wants to end the relationship.

  • was the victim of rape or sexual assault.

  • was accused of having a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

Human rights activists believe that 100,000 honour killings are carried out every year, most of which are not reported to the authorities and some are even deliberately covered up by the authorities themselves, for example because the perpetrators are good friends with local policemen, officials or politicians. Violence against girls and women remains a serious problem in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Serbia and Turkey.

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