Things that can’t be magicked away.

by f

Afshan Azad

If you haven’t read this already, do it now:

Harry Potter Actress’s Brother, Father Allegedly Attempt to Kill Her.

The father and brother of a Harry Potter actress has been charged with threatening to kill the 22-year-old at her Manchester, England, home, prosecutors said Friday.

Afshan Azad, who appeared in four Potter movies as Harry’s classmate Padma Patil, was allegedly attacked May 21 because her family, who are Muslim, did not approve of her relationship with a Hindu man, according to a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service.

Update: a very sketchy report by the Daily Mail alleges that Afshan dropped the charges, but it’s important to note that it’s not a good idea to trust the Daily Mail if it’s only available source.

The first thing I noticed about this case — and this is about Afshan in particular, and not about the horrific larger issue of “honor” killings — is that Afshan is so young. Really, she’s not much older than my younger brother. She’s a kid. And she starred in the Harry Potter movies. That’s second only to being a candied Disney teen music-making money machine like Miley Cyrus … (wait, whoops!)

I mean, Afshan’s not a kid in the legal sense of the term, but please. I know parents. I have a couple of them. They don’t consider me grown and probably won’t until, at the very least, I start running my own household. Though Afshan Azad is a very successful young woman, she’s from a close-knit Bangladeshi family, so financial solvency may not have translated into actual independence for her. And when she did something that was against her social mores — ie, dating a Hindu — her father tried to kill her.

I am so happy they did not manage to finish what they started and I hope that they will be put into jail until the end of eternity which, given the state of the British justice system, is not especially likely.

Since the viewing public knows her through Harry Potter, it’s difficult for people to read a story about her being a victim in something as horrifying and seemingly grown-up as an honor killing, where she’s treated as a loose woman. There’s a cognitive dissonance that comes with this news. We remember her at sixteen, at the very oldest, and here she is at twenty-two, a victim of an attempted murder. There are lots of people who think of her as they do their own daughters. Ergo, the outrage.

It’s a pity that her parents were not capable of thinking the same thing. It’s a pity she’s got more affectionate strangers think of her more fondly than did her own father.

Think about this for a moment. Most people would die for the sake of their children. We bring children into this world and love them with everything we’ve got. There are dysfunctional people who hate their children, but that hatred comes up in violent and frequent ways, ending in absolutely no surprises. That’s a tragic situation, but not what’s going on here. What’s going here is even stranger. The cultural view that women are property forces parents to love their children less.

Eventually, there’s no love left.

Killing is never an act of love. It’s an act of desperation. Sometimes of exasperation. But it always means that you love something else more than the person you’re trying to eliminate.

Afshan Azad’s parents are awful parents. They are awful parents because they don’t love her. They love their reputation, their culture, their ideals, but they do not love her. Instead, they are obsessed with poisonous ideas and feelings. Parenthood does not mean sacrificing your children at the altar of societal glory. It means defending them from any and all evil, not surrendering them to it.

Any parent that does this to their child is not capable of love. Every parent who has participated in their daughter’s murder does not love their child. I can say these things because it is true. These values have replaced parental love with something evil and twisted. They have negated the biological instinct of selflessness and replaced it with pure, vile hatred for a piece of property that won’t obey marching orders.

When I showed Afshan Azad to my father, he scrunched his forehead and said, “Oh — that young girl from the Harry Potter movies! I remember her!” Then I told him about what happened to her and his face grew grim very quickly. I know what he was thinking.

(He was thinking, “She could’ve been one of your friends.”)

But what he said was even curiouser. He’d said, “I wonder what kind of relationship she’ll have with her parents now.”


It’s worth saying that this so-called honor killing practice is not exclusive to Islam. Hindus and Sikhs do it, too. It’s all the same. “Honor” killings remain a despicable practice that can be stopped only once the law makes it very clear that that there will be consequences. Education is no guarantee of better behavior;  very wealthy and educated families also put their daughters to death at the slightest hint of impropriety.

These aren’t good people. They aren’t people of good faith. They’re barbarians and lousy, lousy parents.

4 Responses to “Things that can’t be magicked away.”

  1. I still find it shocking that it is considered standard procedure to kill your children for bringing you shame. Some cultures ostracize, some cut off funding–and I suppose they have a right to do both, once the kids are capable of looking after themselves. But murder?

    You’re right, it’s impossible to call someone who would murder for such reasons a good parent. Carrying out a living will, or assisting someone in pain with suicide has merits. This is callous murder of a -thing- that is not carrying out your will. She, it, isn’t obedient enough.

    How can you raise a child, give birth to it, nurture it, and not come to love it and all its foibles? Hell, parents of axe murderers still love them til the day they die, they don’t have to approve of them.

    Aah, but if you love your kids more than you love religion or societal dogma, you may break those rules. The parent of a gay son may open his heart to gay marriage. And that just won’t do. There must be total obedience–which necessitates that parents love their children less than they love the rest.

    It is a terrible, sad thing. I hope for her sake that Azad does not drop the charges. She’s been brave to bring any kind of action against them, and she risks her life if she backs down now. They clearly didn’t care before that she’s a celebrity, now they have the rest of their community urging them to see it through.

  2. Shouldn’t it be called dishonour killing ?

    • Absolutely. It’s why “honor” was always in parenthesis.
      Honor, my ass.

      What a horrible, horrible thing to have happen to anybody.


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