Honour killing story

Ursula and Heribert R.
born: Ursula: 1945, Heribert: 1955
stabbed to death: 14 March 2008
Location: Berlin
Origin: victim: Germany, perpetrator: Turkish father
Perpetrator: their grandson Erdal, at the time of the crime 18 years
Claudia W. is 16 or 18 years old when she gets together with Sahin Ö., a Turk who is seven years older. In twenty years, four children of their own are born. The two do not marry, presumably because Claudia enters into a sham marriage with Sahin's brother to give him the right to stay in Germany.

Sahin beats and humiliates his family members. In December 2007, Claudia (who works as a geriatric nurse) flees to Hannover with her oldest son Erdal. A work colleague, Iraqi Mohamad R., several years younger, accompanies the two. Erdal, 18, discovers that his mother is having an affair with him. He returns to Berlin and shows solidarity with his father Sahin.

Claudia wants a divorce, but Sahin does not accept it. He terrorizes his former partner and threatens her with death. A local court orders him not to approach her again.

On January 8, Sahin and his son drive to the Iraqi's apartment in Neukölln. Erdal hits him on the head with a dumbbell. When he lies on the ground, he stabs him with a knife. His father Sahin challenges him and hits several vases on Mohamad's head.

The following day, Sahin is arrested and sentenced in July to five and a half years in prison for inflicting grievous bodily harm. His son Erdal goes into hiding with relatives.

But on March 14 he goes to his grandparents Ursula and Heribert. Both are disabled and have always stood by their daughter Claudia (i.e. Erdal's mother) during arguments. In their apartment, the former favorite grandson stabs his grandparents. Police officers later find the young man at an aunt's apartment.

Investigations into whether Erdal's father ordered the murders from prison are halted. However, it is likely that Erdal's violence against his mother's family was the first time he saw an opportunity to gain recognition from his violent father.

On September 9, 2008, the trial begins. Erdal now no longer gives revenge as a motive, but speaks of an escalated conflict. It is unclear why the Berlin-born son of a German mother speaks poor German in the courtroom. A representative of the bereaved family requested that Sahin's mother be questioned to find out if the order to kill came from his family. A phone list of calls made prior to the crime could prove this. The aunt, with whom Erdal was hiding before and after the crime, is also being investigated.

Mother Claudia is in a witness protection program in another city. In the trial, she is both a plaintiff and a witness.

On November 12, 2008, Erdal was sentenced to a juvenile prison term of up to 10 years.

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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